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Quantifying the Life-Cycle Benefits of a Prototypical Early Childhood Program

Listed author(s):
  • García, Jorge Luis

    ()

    (University of Chicago)

  • Heckman, James J.

    ()

    (University of Chicago)

  • Leaf, Duncan Ermini

    ()

    (University of Southern California)

  • Prados, Maria José

    ()

    (University of Southern California)

This paper quantifies the experimentally evaluated life-cycle benefits of a widely implemented early childhood program targeting disadvantaged families. We join experimental data with non-experimental data using economic models to forecast its life-cycle benefits. Our baseline estimate of the internal rate of return (benefit/cost ratio) is 13.7% (7.3). We conduct extensive sensitivity analyses to account for model estimation error, forecasting error, and judgments made about the empirical magnitudes of non-market benefits. We examine the performance of widely used, ad hoc estimates of long-term benefit/cost ratios based on short-term measures of childhood test scores and find them wanting.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 10811.

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Length: 54 pages
Date of creation: May 2017
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp10811
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  1. James Heckman & Rodrigo Pinto & Peter Savelyev, 2013. "Understanding the Mechanisms through Which an Influential Early Childhood Program Boosted Adult Outcomes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(6), pages 2052-2086, October.
  2. Martin Feldstein, 1999. "Tax Avoidance And The Deadweight Loss Of The Income Tax," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(4), pages 674-680, November.
  3. Flavio Cunha & James J. Heckman & Susanne M. Schennach, 2010. "Estimating the Technology of Cognitive and Noncognitive Skill Formation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 78(3), pages 883-931, 05.
  4. Patrick Kline & Christopher R. Walters, 2016. "Evaluating Public Programs with Close Substitutes: The Case of HeadStart," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 131(4), pages 1795-1848.
  5. Heckman, James & Pinto, Rodrigo, 2015. "Causal Analysis After Haavelmo," Econometric Theory, Cambridge University Press, vol. 31(01), pages 115-151, February.
  6. James Heckman & Salvador Navarro-Lozano, 2004. "Using Matching, Instrumental Variables, and Control Functions to Estimate Economic Choice Models," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(1), pages 30-57, February.
  7. Raj Chetty & John N. Friedman & Nathaniel Hilger & Emmanuel Saez & Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach & Danny Yagan, 2011. "How Does Your Kindergarten Classroom Affect Your Earnings? Evidence from Project Star," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(4), pages 1593-1660.
  8. Janet Currie, 2011. "Inequality at Birth: Some Causes and Consequences," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(3), pages 1-22, May.
  9. Jacob A. Mincer, 1974. "Introduction to "Schooling, Experience, and Earnings"," NBER Chapters,in: Schooling, Experience, and Earnings, pages 1-4 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Blundell, Richard & Graber, Michael & Mogstad, Magne, 2015. "Labor income dynamics and the insurance from taxes, transfers, and the family," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 127(C), pages 58-73.
  11. James Heckman & Hidehiko Ichimura & Jeffrey Smith & Petra Todd, 1998. "Characterizing Selection Bias Using Experimental Data," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 66(5), pages 1017-1098, September.
  12. James Heckman & Neil Hohmann & Jeffrey Smith & Michael Khoo, 2000. "Substitution and Dropout Bias in Social Experiments: A Study of an Influential Social Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(2), pages 651-694.
  13. Manasi Deshpande & Yue Li, 2017. "Who Is Screened Out? Application Costs and the Targeting of Disability Programs," NBER Working Papers 23472, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Clive R Belfield & Milagros Nores & Steve Barnett & Lawrence Schweinhart, 2006. "The High/Scope Perry Preschool Program: Cost–Benefit Analysis Using Data from the Age-40 Followup," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 41(1).
  15. Carl Sanders & Christopher Taber, 2012. "Life-Cycle Wage Growth and Heterogeneous Human Capital," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 4(1), pages 399-425, 07.
  16. 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.
  17. Jacob A. Mincer, 1974. "Schooling, Experience, and Earnings," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number minc74-1, October.
  18. Barnett, W.S. & Masse, Leonard N., 2007. "Comparative benefit-cost analysis of the Abecedarian program and its policy implications," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 113-125, February.
  19. Francesco Agostinelli & Matthew Wiswall, 2016. "Estimating the Technology of Children's Skill Formation," NBER Working Papers 22442, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Orazio Attanasio & Adriana Kugler & Costas Meghir, 2011. "Subsidizing Vocational Training for Disadvantaged Youth in Colombia: Evidence from a Randomized Trial," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(3), pages 188-220, July.
  21. Michael Baker & Jonathan Gruber & Kevin Milligan, 2015. "Non-Cognitive Deficits and Young Adult Outcomes: The Long-Run Impacts of a Universal Child Care Program," NBER Working Papers 21571, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  22. Jere R. Behrman & Susan W. Parker & Petra E. Todd, 2011. "Do Conditional Cash Transfers for Schooling Generate Lasting Benefits?: A Five-Year Followup of PROGRESA/Oportunidades," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 46(1), pages 93-122.
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