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Does Head Start Improve Children’s Life Chances? Evidence from a Regression Discontinuity Design

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  • Doug Miller
  • Jens Ludwig

    (Department of Economics, University of California Davis)

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    Abstract

    This paper exploits a new source of variation in Head Start funding to identify the programs effects on health and schooling. In 1965 the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) provided technical assistance to the 300 poorest counties in the U.S. to develop Head Start funding proposals. The result was a large and lasting discontinuity in Head Start funding rates at the OEO cutoff for grant-writing assistance, but no discontinuity in other forms of federal social spending. We find evidence of a large negative discontinuity at the OEO cutoff in mortality rates for children ages 5-9 from causes that could be affected by Head Start, but not for other mortality causes or birth cohorts that should not be affected by the program. We also find suggestive evidence for a positive effect of Head Start on educational attainment in both the 1990 Census, concentrated among those cohorts born late enough to have been exposed to the program, and among respondents in the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by University of California, Davis, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 534.

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    Length: 71
    Date of creation: 28 Sep 2005
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:cda:wpaper:05-34

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    Keywords: heat start; reform; labor;

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    References

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    1. Anne Morrison Piehl & Suzanne J. Cooper & Anthony A. Braga & David M. Kennedy, 2003. "Testing for Structural Breaks in the Evaluation of Programs," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 85(3), pages 550-558, August.
    2. Perron, P. & Bai, J., 1995. "Estimating and Testing Linear Models with Multiple Structural Changes," Cahiers de recherche 9552, Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en économie quantitative, CIREQ.
    3. Donohue, John J, III & Siegelman, Peter, 1998. "Allocating Resources among Prisons and Social Programs in the Battle against Crime," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 27(1), pages 1-43, January.
    4. Janet Currie & Duncan Thomas, 2000. "School Quality and the Longer-Term Effects of Head Start," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 35(4), pages 755-774.
    5. James Heckman & Pedro Carneiro, 2003. "Human Capital Policy," NBER Working Papers 9495, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Jonathan Guryan, 2001. "Does Money Matter? Regression-Discontinuity Estimates from Education Finance Reform in Massachusetts," NBER Working Papers 8269, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Anne Case & Angela Fertig & Christina Paxson, 2004. "The Lasting Impact of Childhood Health and Circumstance," Working Papers 246, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Health and Wellbeing..
    8. Sunstein, Cass R., 2004. "Are Poor People Worth Less Than Rich People? Disaggregating the Value of Statistical Lives," Working paper 193, Regulation2point0.
    9. Roland G. Fryer, Jr. & Steven D. Levitt, 2002. "Understanding the Black-White Test Score Gap in the First Two Years of School," NBER Working Papers 8975, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Hahn, Jinyong & Todd, Petra & Van der Klaauw, Wilbert, 2001. "Identification and Estimation of Treatment Effects with a Regression-Discontinuity Design," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(1), pages 201-09, January.
    11. Derek Neal, 2005. "Why Has Black-White Skill Convergence Stopped?," NBER Working Papers 11090, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Jonathan Guryan, 2001. "Desegregation and Black Dropout Rates," NBER Working Papers 8345, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. William J. Collins & Robert A. Margo, 2004. "The Economic Aftermath of the 1960s Riots: Evidence from Property Values," NBER Working Papers 10493, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Goldin, Claudia & Katz, Lawrence F., 2000. "Education and Income in the Early Twentieth Century: Evidence from the Prairies," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 60(03), pages 782-818, September.
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    Cited by:
    1. Guido W. Imbens & Jeffrey M. Wooldridge, 2009. "Recent Developments in the Econometrics of Program Evaluation," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 47(1), pages 5-86, March.
    2. Yoichi Arai & Hidehiko Ichimura, 2014. "Simultaneous Selection of Optimal Bandwidths for the Sharp Regression Discontinuity Estimator," GRIPS Discussion Papers 14-03, National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies.
    3. Chiang, Hanley, 2009. "How accountability pressure on failing schools affects student achievement," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(9-10), pages 1045-1057, October.
    4. Yoichi Arai & Hidehiko Ichimura, 2013. "Optimal Bandwidth Selection for Differences of Nonparametric Estimators with an Application to the Sharp Regression Discontinuity Design," CIRJE F-Series CIRJE-F-889, CIRJE, Faculty of Economics, University of Tokyo.

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