The Long-Term Effects of Universal Preschool in Boston
We use admissions lotteries to estimate the effects of large-scale public preschool in Boston on college-going, college preparation, standardized test scores, and behavioral outcomes. Preschool enrollment boosts college attendance, as well as SAT test-taking and high school graduation. Preschool also decreases several disciplinary measures including juvenile incarceration, but has no detectable impact on state achievement test scores. An analysis of subgroups shows that effects on college enrollment, SAT-taking, and disciplinary outcomes are larger for boys than for girls. Our findings illustrate possibilities for large-scale modern, public preschool and highlight the importance of measuring long-term and non-test score outcomes in evaluating the effectiveness of education programs.
Thanks to Jason Sachs and staff at Boston Public Schools and Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education for assistance in conducting this study. Pathak thanks the W. T. Grant Early Career Scholars Program for financial support. Eryn Heying provided superb support and Robert Upton provided excellent research assistance. We have benefitted from comments from seminar participants at Harvard, UC Riverside, USC, UC Berkeley, UCLA, and the University of Chicago. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.