NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
loading...

Does Universal Preschool Hit the Target? Program Access and Preschool Impacts

Elizabeth U. Cascio

NBER Working Paper No. 23215
Issued in March 2017, Revised in July 2019
NBER Program(s):The Program on Children, The Education Program, The Labor Studies Program

This paper studies the cost efficacy of universal over means-tested (targeted) programs, taking advantage of the rich diversity in state rules governing access to state-funded preschool in the U.S. Using age-eligibility rules for identification, I find that attending a state-funded universal preschool generates substantial immediate test score gains, particularly for poor children. Gains for poor children from attending targeted preschool are significantly smaller. These findings are robust to many specification checks, and cross-state differences in alternative care options, demographics, and other key features of the program environment cannot explain the difference in attendance impacts across program types. Impacts of universal public kindergarten and universal pre-K also look substantively similar within the same data, supporting an access interpretation. Benefit-cost ratios of universal programs are favorable despite their relatively high costs per poor child.

download in pdf format
   (1464 K)

email paper

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w23215

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded* these:
GarcĂ­a, Heckman, Leaf, and Prados w22993 The Life-cycle Benefits of an Influential Early Childhood Program
Cascio w14951 Do Investments in Universal Early Education Pay Off? Long-term Effects of Introducing Kindergartens into Public Schools
Bassok, Dee, and Latham w23859 The Effects of Accountability Incentives in Early Childhood Education
Cascio and Staiger w18038 Knowledge, Tests, and Fadeout in Educational Interventions
Almond, Currie, and Duque w23017 Childhood Circumstances and Adult Outcomes: Act II
 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
NBER Videos
Themes
Data
People
About

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email: info@nber.org

Contact Us