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Early Childhood Education

Early Childhood Education

(p.235) 4 Early Childhood Education
Economics of Means-Tested Transfer Programs in the United States, Volume II
Sneha ElangoJorge Luis GarcíaJames J. HeckmanAndrés Hojman
University of Chicago Press

This paper organizes and synthesizes the literature on early childhood education and childcare. In it, we go beyond meta-analysis and reanalyze primary data sources in a common framework. We consider the evidence from means-tested demonstration programs, large-scale means-tested programs and universal programs without means testing. We discuss which programs are beneficial and whether they are cost-effective for certain populations. The evidence from high-quality demonstration programs targeted toward disadvantaged children shows beneficial effects. Returns exceed costs, even accounting for the deadweight loss of collecting taxes. When proper policy counterfactuals are constructed, we show that Head Start has beneficial effects on disadvantaged children compared to home alternatives. Universal programs benefit disadvantaged children. There is little direct evidence on the effectiveness of the programs we study on the children of affluent families. This chapter does not address the general question of the optimal provision of childcare for persons in different economic strata.

Keywords:   child development, cost benefit, effective policy, early childhood education

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