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Can Intensive Early Childhood Intervention Programs Eliminate Income-Based Cognitive and Achievement Gaps?

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  • Greg J. Duncan
  • Aaron J. Sojourner

Abstract

How much of the income-based gaps in cognitive ability and academic achievement could be closed by a two-year, center-based early childhood education intervention? Data from the Infant Health and Development Program (IHDP), which randomly assigned treatment to low-birth-weight children from both higher- and low-income families between ages one and three, shows much larger impacts among low- than higher-income children. Projecting IHDP impacts to the U.S. population’s IQ and achievement trajectories suggests that such a program offered to low-income children would essentially eliminate the income-based gap at age three and between a third and three-quarters of the age five and age eight gaps.

Suggested Citation

  • Greg J. Duncan & Aaron J. Sojourner, 2013. "Can Intensive Early Childhood Intervention Programs Eliminate Income-Based Cognitive and Achievement Gaps?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 48(4), pages 945-968.
  • Handle: RePEc:uwp:jhriss:v:48:y:2013:iv:1:p:945-968
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. David Deming, 2009. "Early Childhood Intervention and Life-Cycle Skill Development: Evidence from Head Start," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(3), pages 111-134, July.
    2. Heckman, James J. & Moon, Seong Hyeok & Pinto, Rodrigo & Savelyev, Peter A. & Yavitz, Adam, 2010. "The rate of return to the HighScope Perry Preschool Program," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(1-2), pages 114-128, February.
    3. Jens Ludwig & Douglas L. Miller, 2007. "Does Head Start Improve Children's Life Chances? Evidence from a Regression Discontinuity Design," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(1), pages 159-208.
    4. Loeb, Susanna & Bridges, Margaret & Bassok, Daphna & Fuller, Bruce & Rumberger, Russell W., 2007. "How much is too much? The influence of preschool centers on children's social and cognitive development," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 52-66, February.
    5. Timothy J. Bartik, 2011. "Investing in Kids: Early Childhood Programs and Local Economic Development," Books from Upjohn Press, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, number iik, December.
    6. John M. Love & Ellen E. Kisker & Christine Ross & Helen Raikes & Jill Constantine & Kimberly Boller & Jeanne Brooks-Gunn & Rachel Chazan-Cohen & Louisa Banks Tarullo & Christy Brady-Smith & Allison Si, "undated". "The Effectiveness of Early Head Start for 3-Year-Old Children and Their Parents: Lessons for Policy and Programs," Mathematica Policy Research Reports 10736b794ab64be890ae75757, Mathematica Policy Research.
    7. Vivian C. Wong & Thomas D. Cook & W. Steven Barnett & Kwanghee Jung, 2008. "An effectiveness-based evaluation of five state pre-kindergarten programs," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 27(1), pages 122-154.
    8. Guido W. Imbens, 2004. "Nonparametric Estimation of Average Treatment Effects Under Exogeneity: A Review," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(1), pages 4-29, February.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Elizabeth M. Caucutt & Lance Lochner & Youngmin Park, 2017. "Correlation, Consumption, Confusion, or Constraints: Why Do Poor Children Perform so Poorly?," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 119(1), pages 102-147, January.
    2. Sneha Elango & Jorge Luis García & James J. Heckman & Andrés Hojman, 2015. "Early Childhood Education," NBER Chapters,in: Economics of Means-Tested Transfer Programs in the United States, Volume 2, pages 235-297 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Jensen, Bente & Jensen, Peter & Rasmussen, Astrid Würtz, 2015. "Does Professional Development of Preschool Teachers Improve Child Socio-Emotional Outcomes?," IZA Discussion Papers 8957, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Shannon Monahan & Jaime Thomas & Dianne Paulsell & Lauren Murphy, "undated". "Learning about Infant and Toddler Early Education Services (LITES): A Systematic Review of the Evidence," Mathematica Policy Research Reports cfbc6dd280134471b144b4de8, Mathematica Policy Research.
    5. Datta Gupta, Nabanita & Simonsen, Marianne, 2016. "Academic performance and type of early childhood care," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 53(C), pages 217-229.
    6. Patricia Del Grosso & Jaime Thomas & Libby Makowsky & Michael Levere & NIckie Fung & Diane Paulsell, "undated". "Working Together for Children and Families: Findings from the National Descriptive Study of Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships," Mathematica Policy Research Reports f9ad48afa0a342f2b440d8d7f, Mathematica Policy Research.
    7. Jorge Luis Garcia & James J. Heckman & Duncan Ermini Leaf & Maria Jose Prados, 2016. "Quantifying the Life-cycle Benefits of an Influential Early Childhood Program," Working Papers 2016-035, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
    8. repec:eee:labeco:v:45:y:2017:i:c:p:26-39 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Jorge Luis García & James J. Heckman & Duncan Ermini Leaf & María José Prados, 2017. "Quantifying the Life-cycle Benefits of a Prototypical Early Childhood Program," NBER Working Papers 23479, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. repec:eee:ecoedu:v:65:y:2018:i:c:p:126-137 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Jorge Luis García & James J. Heckman & Duncan Ermini Leaf & María José Prados, 2016. "The Life-cycle Benefits of an Influential Early Childhood Program," NBER Working Papers 22993, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. repec:eee:cysrev:v:93:y:2018:i:c:p:291-300 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • I3 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty

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