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Does Head Start Help Hispanic Children?

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  • Janet Currie
  • Duncan Thomas

Abstract

Poor educational attainment is a persistent problem among Latino children, relative to non-Latinos. This paper examines the effects of participation in the Head Start program on Latinos. We find that large and significant benefits accrue to Head Start children when we compare them to siblings who did not participate in the program. On average, Head Start closes at least 1/4 of the gap in test scores between Latino children and non-Hispanic white children, and 2/3 of the gap in the probability of grade repetition. Latinos are not a homogenous group and we find that the benefits of Head Start are not evenly distributed across sub-groups. Relative to siblings who attend no preschool from Head Start are greatest among children of Mexican-origin and children of native-born mothers, especially those whose mothers have more human capital. In contrast, Latino children whose mothers are foreign-born and Puerto Rican children appear to reap little benefit from attending Head Start, relative to their siblings.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 5805.

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Date of creation: Oct 1996
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Publication status: published as Journal of Public Economics, Vol. 74, no.2 (November 1999): 235-262. Published as "Does Head Start Make a Difference?", American Economic Review , Vol. 85, no. 3 (1995): 341-364.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5805

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  1. Edward P. Lazear, 1995. "Culture and Language," NBER Working Papers 5249, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Richard J. Murnane & John B. Willett & Frank Levy, 1995. "The Growing Importance of Cognitive Skills in Wage Determination," NBER Working Papers 5076, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Janet Currie & Duncan Thomas, 1993. "Does Head Start Make a Difference?," NBER Working Papers 4406, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. W. Steven Barnett, 1992. "Benefits of Compensatory Preschool Education," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 27(2), pages 279-312.
  5. Borjas, George J, 1992. "Ethnic Capital and Intergenerational Mobility," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(1), pages 123-50, February.
  6. Grace Kao & Marta Tienda, . "Optimism and Achievement: The Educational Performance of Immigrant Youth," University of Chicago - Population Research Center 94-13, Chicago - Population Research Center.
  7. Denton, N.A. & Massey, D.S., 1988. "Residential Segregation Of Blacks, Hispanics, And Asians By Socioeconomic Status And Generation," University of Chicago - Economics Research Center 88-2, Chicago - Economics Research Center.
  8. Robert J. LaLonde, 1995. "The Promise of Public Sector-Sponsored Training Programs," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(2), pages 149-168, Spring.
  9. Currie, J. & Thomas, D., 1995. "Nature vs. Nurture? The Bell Curve and Children's Cognitive Achievement," Papers 95-19, RAND - Labor and Population Program.
  10. Case, A.C. & Katz, L.F., 1991. "The Company You Keep: The Effects Of Family And Neighborhood On Disadvantaged Younths," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1555, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  11. Nancy A. Denton & Douglas S. Massey, . "Residential Segregation of Blacks, Hispanics, and Asians by Socioeconomic Status and Generation," University of Chicago - Population Research Center 88-2, Chicago - Population Research Center.
  12. Rosenzweig, Mark R & Wolpin, Kenneth I, 1995. "Sisters, Siblings, and Mothers: The Effect of Teen-Age Childbearing on Birth Outcomes in a Dynamic Family Context," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 63(2), pages 303-26, March.
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