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The Political Economy of State and Local Investment in Pre-K Programs

Matthew E. Kahn, Kyle Barron

NBER Working Paper No. 21208
Issued in May 2015, Revised in September 2015
NBER Program(s):Program on Children, Economics of Education Program, Public Economics Program, Political Economy Program

The expansion of access to publicly provided pre-kindergarten bundles together redistribution to the poor with an early human capital investment. Financing publicly provided pre-K investment is mainly a state and local issue. Which voters favor local pre-K expansion? This paper uses several new data sets to describe the circumstances such that local voters reveal a willingness to spend on an early intervention that may not yield direct benefits for them. Republican voters consistently oppose the expansion of publicly provided pre-K. Suburban voters also tend to oppose such investment. We explore several possible explanations for these facts.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w21208

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