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Early childhood development and social mobility

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  • Barnett, W. Steven
  • Belfield, Clive R.

Abstract

Steven Barnett and Clive Belfield examine the effects of preschool education on social mobility in the United States. They note that under current policy three- and four-year-old children from economically and educationally disadvantaged families have higher preschool attendance rates than other children. But current programs fail to enroll even half of poor three-and four-year olds. Hispanics and children of mothers who drop out of school also participate at relatively low rates. The programs also do little to improve learning and development. Barnett and Belfield point out that preschool programs raise academic skills on average, but do not appear to have notably different effects for different groups of children, and so do not strongly enhance social mobility. In such areas as crime, welfare, and teen parenting, however, preschool seems more able to break links between parental behaviors and child outcomes. Increased investment in preschool, conclude Barnett and Belfield, could raise social mombility. Program expansions targeted to disadvantaged children would help them move up the ladder, as would a more universal set of policies from which disadvantaged children gained disproportionately. Increasing the educational effectiveness of early childhood programs would provide for greater gains in social mobility than increasing participation rates alone. The authors observe that if future expansions of preschool programs end up serving all children, not just the poorest, society as a whole would gain. Benefits would exceed costs and there would be more economic growth, but relative gains for disadvantaged children would be smaller than absolute gains because there would be some (smaller) benefits to other children.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 858.

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Date of creation: Oct 2006
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Publication status: Published in The Future of Children 2.16(2006): pp. 73-98
Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:858

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Keywords: early childhood education; social mobility; benefit/cost analyses; income disparity; disadvantaged children;

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Cited by:
  1. Belfield, Clive R. & Kelly, Inas Rashad, 2013. "Early education and health outcomes of a 2001 U.S. Birth Cohort," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 11(3), pages 310-325.
  2. Barbara Bruns & David Evans & Javier Luque, 2012. "Achieving World-Class Education in Brazil : The Next Agenda," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 2383, August.
  3. Nores, Milagros & Barnett, W. Steven, 2010. "Benefits of early childhood interventions across the world: (Under) Investing in the very young," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 271-282, April.
  4. Drange, Nina & Havnes, Tarjei & Sandsør, Astrid M. J., 2012. "Kindergarten for All: Long Run Effects of a Universal Intervention," IZA Discussion Papers 6986, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Helen Baker-Henningham & Florencia López Bóo, 2010. "Early Childhood Stimulation Interventions in Developing Countries: A Comprehensive Literature Review," IDB Publications 9394, Inter-American Development Bank.

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