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How Much is Too Much? The Influence of Preschool Centers on Children's Social and Cognitive Development

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  • Susanna Loeb
  • Margaret Bridges
  • Bruce Fuller
  • Russ Rumberger
  • Daphna Bassok
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    Abstract

    Previous research has demonstrated that attending center care is associated with cognitive benefits for young children. However, little is known about the ideal age for children to enter such care or the "right" amount of time, both weekly and yearly, for children to attend center programs. Using national data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study (ECLS-K), this paper asks whether there are optimal levels of center care duration and intensity and whether these levels vary by race or income. We consider pre-reading and math skills as measured by assessments administered at the beginning of kindergarten, as well as teacher-reported social-behavioral measures. We find that on average attending center care is associated with positive gains in pre-reading and math skills, but negative social behavior. Across economic levels, children who start center care between ages two and three see greater gains than those who start centers earlier or later. Further, starting earlier than age 2 is related to more pronounced negative social effects. Results for center intensity vary by income levels and race. For instance, poor and middle-income children see academic gains from attending center intensively (more than 30 hours a week), but wealthier children do not; and while intense center negatively impacts Black and White's social development, it does not have any negative impact for Hispanic children.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 11812.

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    Date of creation: Dec 2005
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    Publication status: published as Loeb, Susanna, Margaret Bridges, Daphna Bassok, Bruce Fuller and Russell W. Rumbergerd. "How much is too much? The influence of preschool centers on children's social and cognitive development." Economics of Education Review 26, 1 (February 2007): 52-66.
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11812

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    1. Magnuson, Katherine A. & Ruhm, Christopher & Waldfogel, Jane, 2007. "Does prekindergarten improve school preparation and performance?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 33-51, February.
    2. A. J. Reynolds & J. A. Temple, . "Extended early childhood intervention and school achievement: Age 13 findings from the Chicago longitudinal study," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1095-96, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
    3. Eliana Garces & Duncan Thomas & Janet Currie, 2000. "Longer Term Effects of Head Start," Working Papers 00-20, RAND Corporation Publications Department.
    4. Heckman, James J & Ichimura, Hidehiko & Todd, Petra, 1998. "Matching as an Econometric Evaluation Estimator," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 65(2), pages 261-94, April.
    5. Roland G. Fryer & Steven D. Levitt, 2004. "Understanding the Black-White Test Score Gap in the First Two Years of School," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(2), pages 447-464, May.
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    Cited by:
    1. Berger, Lawrence & Brooks-Gunn, Jeanne & Paxson, Christina & Waldfogel, Jane, 2008. "First-year maternal employment and child outcomes: Differences across racial and ethnic groups," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(4), pages 365-387, April.
    2. Emiliana Vegas & Lucrecia Santibáñez, 2010. "The Promise of Early Childhood Development in Latin America and the Caribbean," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 9385, October.
    3. Pierre Lefebvre & Philip Merrigan & Matthieu Verstraete, 2006. "Impact of Early Childhood Care and Education on Children's Preschool Cognitive Development: Canadian Results from a Large Quasi-experiment," Cahiers de recherche 0636, CIRPEE.
    4. J. Besharov & Caeli A. Higney, 2007. "Response to Barnett and Currie," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 26(3), pages 686-688.
    5. William T. Gormley Jr., 2007. "Early childhood care and education: Lessons and puzzles," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 26(3), pages 633-671.

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