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The Political Economy of State and Local Investment in Pre-K Programs


  • Kahn, Matthew E.

    () (University of California, Los Angeles)

  • Barron, Kyle

    () (University of California, San Francisco)


The expansion of access to publicly provided pre-kindergarten bundles together redistribution to the poor with an early human capital investment. Financing publicly provided pre-K investment is mainly a state and local issue. Which voters favor local pre-K expansion? This paper uses several new data sets to describe the circumstances such that local voters reveal a willingness to spend on an early intervention that may not yield direct benefits for them. Republican voters consistently oppose the expansion of publicly provided pre-K. Suburban voters also tend to oppose such investment. We explore several possible explanations for these facts.

Suggested Citation

  • Kahn, Matthew E. & Barron, Kyle, 2015. "The Political Economy of State and Local Investment in Pre-K Programs," IZA Discussion Papers 9337, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp9337

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    References listed on IDEAS

    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. Elizabeth Cascio & Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, 2013. "The Impacts of Expanding Access to High-Quality Preschool Education," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 44(2 (Fall)), pages 127-192.
    3. David J. Deming, 2011. "Better Schools, Less Crime?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(4), pages 2063-2115.
    4. Alesina, Alberto & La Ferrara, Eliana, 2005. "Preferences for redistribution in the land of opportunities," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(5-6), pages 897-931, June.
    5. Wu, Xiaoyu & Cutter, Bowman, 2011. "Who votes for public environmental goods in California?: Evidence from a spatial analysis of voting for environmental ballot measures," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(3), pages 554-563, January.
    6. 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.
    7. Erzo F. P. Luttmer, 2001. "Group Loyalty and the Taste for Redistribution," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(3), pages 500-528, June.
    8. Raj Chetty & Nathaniel Hendren & Patrick Kline & Emmanuel Saez, 2014. "Where is the land of Opportunity? The Geography of Intergenerational Mobility in the United States," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 129(4), pages 1553-1623.
    9. James J. Heckman & Dimitriy V. Masterov, 2007. "The Productivity Argument for Investing in Young Children," Review of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 29(3), pages 446-493.
    10. Kahn, Matthew E & Matsusaka, John G, 1997. "Demand for Environmental Goods: Evidence from Voting Patterns on California Initiatives," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 40(1), pages 137-173, April.
    11. Glaeser, Edward L. & Kahn, Matthew E. & Rappaport, Jordan, 2008. "Why do the poor live in cities The role of public transportation," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(1), pages 1-24, January.
    12. Matthew J. Holian & Matthew E. Kahn, 2014. "Household Demand for Low Carbon Public Policies: Evidence from California," NBER Working Papers 19965, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Kotchen, Matthew J. & Powers, Shawn M., 2006. "Explaining the appearance and success of voter referenda for open-space conservation," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 52(1), pages 373-390, July.
    14. John G. Matsusaka, 2005. "Direct Democracy Works," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(2), pages 185-206, Spring.
    15. Bound, John & Groen, Jeffrey & Kezdi, G.Gabor & Turner, Sarah, 2004. "Trade in university training: cross-state variation in the production and stock of college-educated labor," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 121(1-2), pages 143-173.
    16. Greg J. Duncan & Katherine Magnuson, 2013. "Investing in Preschool Programs," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 27(2), pages 109-132, Spring.
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    Cited by:

    1. Matthew E. Kahn, 2015. "A Review of The Age of Sustainable Development by Jeffrey Sachs," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 53(3), pages 654-666, September.

    More about this item


    early childhood investment; voting; urban; suburban;

    JEL classification:

    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods

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