IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/nbr/nberwo/12973.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

The Benefits and Costs of Head Start

Author

Listed:
  • Jens Ludwig
  • Deborah A. Phillips

Abstract

In this essay we review what is known about Head Start and argue that the program is likely to generate benefits to participants and society as a whole that are large enough to justify the program's costs. Our conclusions differ importantly from those offered in some previous reviews because we use a more appropriate standard to judge the success of Head Start (namely, benefit-cost analysis), draw on new accumulating evidence for Head Start's long-term effects on early cohorts of program participants, and discuss why common interpretations of a recent randomized experimental evaluation of Head Start's short-term impacts may be overly pessimistic. While in principle there could be more beneficial ways of deploying Head Start resources, the benefits of such changes remain uncertain and there is some downside risk.

Suggested Citation

  • Jens Ludwig & Deborah A. Phillips, 2007. "The Benefits and Costs of Head Start," NBER Working Papers 12973, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12973
    Note: CH
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w12973.pdf
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Eliana Garces & Duncan Thomas & Janet Currie, 2002. "Longer-Term Effects of Head Start," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 999-1012, September.
    2. Howard S. Bloom, 1984. "Accounting for No-Shows in Experimental Evaluation Designs," Evaluation Review, , vol. 8(2), pages 225-246, April.
    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. Carneiro, Pedro & Heckman, James J., 2003. "Human Capital Policy," IZA Discussion Papers 821, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    5. Janet Currie & Duncan Thomas, 1999. "Early Test Scores, Socioeconomic Status and Future Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 6943, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Jonathan Gruber & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2006. "Do Cigarette Taxes Make Smokers Happier?," Palgrave Macmillan Books, in: Yew-Kwang Ng & Lok Sang Ho (ed.), Happiness and Public Policy, chapter 6, pages 109-146, Palgrave Macmillan.
    7. Alan B. Krueger, 2003. "Economic Considerations and Class Size," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(485), pages 34-63, February.
    8. Jonathan Gruber & Botond Koszegi, 2002. "A Theory of Government Regulation of Addictive Bads: Optimal Tax Levels and Tax Incidence for Cigarette Excise Taxation," NBER Working Papers 8777, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Currie, Janet & Thomas, Duncan, 1995. "Does Head Start Make a Difference?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(3), pages 341-364, June.
    10. Knudsen, Eric I. & Heckman, James J. & Cameron, Judy L. & Shonkoff, Jack P., 2006. "Economic, Neurobiological and Behavioral Perspectives on Building America's Future Workforce," IZA Discussion Papers 2190, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    11. Magnuson, Katherine A. & Ruhm, Christopher & Waldfogel, Jane, 2007. "Does prekindergarten improve school preparation and performance?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 33-51, February.
    12. Card, David, 2001. "Estimating the Return to Schooling: Progress on Some Persistent Econometric Problems," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(5), pages 1127-1160, September.
    13. William T. Gormley, Jr. & Ted Gayer, 2005. "Promoting School Readiness in Oklahoma: An Evaluation of Tulsa's Pre-K Program," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 40(3).
    14. Murnane, Richard J & Willett, John B & Levy, Frank, 1995. "The Growing Importance of Cognitive Skills in Wage Determination," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 77(2), pages 251-266, May.
    15. Currie, Janet & Neidell, Matthew, 2007. "Getting inside the "Black Box" of Head Start quality: What matters and what doesn't," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 83-99, February.
    16. Janet Currie, 2001. "Early Childhood Education Programs," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(2), pages 213-238, Spring.
    17. Philip J. Cook & Jens Ludwig, 2006. "Aiming for evidence-based gun policy," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 25(3), pages 691-735.
    18. 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).
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Marisa Hidalgo-Hidalgo, 2019. "Childhood-Related Policies and Adult Poverty: Evidence from Some European Countries," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 144(1), pages 191-217, July.
    2. Pedro Carneiro & Rita Ginja, 2014. "Long-Term Impacts of Compensatory Preschool on Health and Behavior: Evidence from Head Start," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 6(4), pages 135-173, November.
    3. Taeeung Kim & Minju Kim & Chang-Yong Jang & Nam-Gyeong Gim, 2021. "Effects of the Head Start Program on Socioecological Obesogenic Factors in American Children," IJERPH, MDPI, vol. 18(9), pages 1-12, April.
    4. Chloe Gibbs & Jens Ludwig & Douglas L. Miller, 2011. "Does Head Start Do Any Lasting Good?," NBER Working Papers 17452, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Vegas, Emiliana & Santibáñez, Lucrecia, 2018. "The Promise of Early Childhood Development in Latin America and the Caribbean," IDB Publications (Books), Inter-American Development Bank, number 362.
    6. Hirokazu Yoshikawa & Robert G. Myers & Kathleen McCartney & Kristen L. Bub & Julieta Lugo-Gil & Maria A. Ramos & Felicia Knaul, 2007. "Early Childhood Education in Mexico: Expansion, quality improvement, and curricular reform," Papers inwopa07/41, Innocenti Working Papers.
    7. 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.
    8. Barry J. Milne & Roy Lay-Yee & Jessica M. Mc Lay & Janet Pearson & Martin von Randow & Peter Davis, 2015. "Modelling the Early life-course (MELC): A Microsimulation Model of Child Development in New Zealand," International Journal of Microsimulation, International Microsimulation Association, vol. 8(2), pages 28-60.
    9. Arteaga, Irma & Humpage, Sarah & Reynolds, Arthur J. & Temple, Judy A., 2014. "One year of preschool or two: Is it important for adult outcomes?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 221-237.
    10. Cory Koedel & Teerachat Techapaisarnjaroenkit, 2012. "The Relative Performance of Head Start," Eastern Economic Journal, Palgrave Macmillan;Eastern Economic Association, vol. 38(2), pages 251-275.
    11. Roland G. Fryer, Jr, 2010. "Financial Incentives and Student Achievement: Evidence from Randomized Trials," NBER Working Papers 15898, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Sandner, Malte & Jungmann, Tanja, 2017. "Gender-specific effects of early childhood intervention: Evidence from a randomized controlled trial," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 59-78.
    13. Vilsa E. Curto & Roland G. Fryer Jr., 2014. "The Potential of Urban Boarding Schools for the Poor: Evidence from SEED," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 32(1), pages 65-93.
    14. Philip J. Cook & Jens Ludwig, 2010. "Economical Crime Control," NBER Working Papers 16513, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. Wikle, Jocelyn & Wilson, Riley, 2021. "Access to Head Start and Maternal Labor Supply: Experimental and Quasi-Experimental Evidence," IZA Discussion Papers 14880, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    16. Waldfogel, Jane & Washbrook, Elizabeth, 2011. "Early years policy," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 43728, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    17. Kathryn H. Anderson & James E. Foster & David E. Frisvold, 2010. "Investing In Health: The Long‐Term Impact Of Head Start On Smoking," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 48(3), pages 587-602, July.
    18. Sandner, Malte, 2013. "Effects of Early Childhood Intervention on Child Development and Early Skill Formation. Evidence from a Randomized Controlled Trial," Hannover Economic Papers (HEP) dp-518, Leibniz Universität Hannover, Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät.
    19. N. Nazukova, 2019. "Investing in early childhood development in the context of reforming educational funding in Ukraine," Economy and Forecasting, Valeriy Heyets, issue 2, pages 66-84.
    20. Belfield, Clive R. & Kelly, Inas Rashad, 2013. "Early education and health outcomes of a 2001 U.S. Birth Cohort," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 11(3), pages 310-325.
    21. Sara B. Heller & Brian A. Jacob & Jens Ludwig, 2010. "Family Income, Neighborhood Poverty, and Crime," NBER Chapters, in: Controlling Crime: Strategies and Tradeoffs, pages 419-459, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    22. Lynn A. Karoly, 2013. "Toward standardization of benefit–cost analysis of early childhood interventions," Chapters, in: Scott O. Farrow & Richard Zerbe, Jr. (ed.), Principles and Standards for Benefit–Cost Analysis, chapter 2, pages 63-109, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    23. Martin Ravallion, 2013. "The Idea of Antipoverty Policy," NBER Working Papers 19210, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Chloe Gibbs & Jens Ludwig & Douglas L. Miller, 2011. "Does Head Start Do Any Lasting Good?," NBER Working Papers 17452, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Herbst, Chris M. & Tekin, Erdal, 2010. "Child care subsidies and child development," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(4), pages 618-638, August.
    3. Magnuson, Katherine & Shager, Hilary, 2010. "Early education: Progress and promise for children from low-income families," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 32(9), pages 1186-1198, September.
    4. Pedro Carneiro & Rita Ginja, 2014. "Long-Term Impacts of Compensatory Preschool on Health and Behavior: Evidence from Head Start," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 6(4), pages 135-173, November.
    5. Greg J. Duncan & Jens Ludwig & Katherine A. Magnuson, 2010. "Child Development," NBER Chapters, in: Targeting Investments in Children: Fighting Poverty When Resources are Limited, pages 27-58, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Berlinski, Samuel & Galiani, Sebastian & Gertler, Paul, 2009. "The effect of pre-primary education on primary school performance," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(1-2), pages 219-234, February.
    7. Cunha, Flavio & Heckman, James J. & Lochner, Lance, 2006. "Interpreting the Evidence on Life Cycle Skill Formation," Handbook of the Economics of Education, in: Erik Hanushek & F. Welch (ed.), Handbook of the Economics of Education, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 12, pages 697-812, Elsevier.
    8. Kathryn H. Anderson & James E. Foster & David E. Frisvold, 2010. "Investing In Health: The Long‐Term Impact Of Head Start On Smoking," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 48(3), pages 587-602, July.
    9. Drange, Nina & Havnes, Tarjei & Sandsør, Astrid M.J., 2016. "Kindergarten for all: Long run effects of a universal intervention," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 53(C), pages 164-181.
    10. Rossin-Slater, Maya & Wüst, Miriam, 2016. "What is the Added Value of Preschool? Long-Term Impacts and Interactions with a Health Intervention," IZA Discussion Papers 10254, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    11. Schady, Norbert, 2006. "Early childhood development in Latin America and the Caribbean," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3869, The World Bank.
    12. 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.
    13. Maya Rossin-Slater & Miriam Wüst, 2016. "What is the Added Value of Preschool for Poor Children? Long-Term and Intergenerational Impacts and Interactions with an Infant Health Intervention," NBER Working Papers 22700, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Berlinski, Samuel & Galiani, Sebastian & Manacorda, Marco, 2008. "Giving children a better start: Preschool attendance and school-age profiles," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(5-6), pages 1416-1440, June.
    15. Doug Miller & Jens Ludwig, 2005. "Does Head Start Improve Children?s Life Chances? Evidence from a Regression Discontinuity Design," Working Papers 534, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
    16. Brutti, Zelda & Montolio, Daniel, 2021. "Preventing criminal minds: Early education access and adult offending behavior," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 191(C), pages 97-126.
    17. James Heckman & Flavio Cunha, 2007. "The Technology of Skill Formation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(2), pages 31-47, May.
    18. Kautz, Tim & Heckman, James J. & Diris, Ron & ter Weel, Bas & Borghans, Lex, 2014. "Fostering and Measuring Skills: Improving Cognitive and Non-Cognitive Skills to Promote Lifetime Success," IZA Discussion Papers 8696, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    19. Sam Berlinksi & Sebastian Galiani & Marco Manacorda, 2007. "Giving Children a Better Start: Preschool Attendance & School-Age Profiles," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series wp860, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
    20. 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.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H43 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Project Evaluation; Social Discount Rate
    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education
    • I3 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12973. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.html .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.