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Does Head Start Do Any Lasting Good?

Author

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  • Chloe Gibbs
  • Jens Ludwig
  • Douglas L. Miller

Abstract

Head Start is a federal early childhood intervention designed to reduce disparities in preschool outcomes. The first randomized experimental study of Head Start, the National Head Start Impact Study (NHSIS), found impacts on academic outcomes of .15 to .3 standard deviations measured at the end of the program year, although the estimated impacts were no longer significant when measured at the end of kindergarten or first grade. Assessments that Head Start is ineffective based on the NHSIS results are in our view premature, given our currently limited understanding of how and why early childhood education improves long-term life chances. Many of the specific changes to Head Start that have been proposed could potentially wind up doing more harm than good.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17452
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. John List & Fatemeh Momeni & Yves Zenou, 2020. "The Social Side of Early Human Capital Formation: Using a Field Experiment to Estimate the Causal Impact of Neighborhoods," Natural Field Experiments 00722, The Field Experiments Website.
    2. 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.
    3. Monique De Haan & Edwin Leuven, 2020. "Head Start and the Distribution of Long-Term Education and Labor Market Outcomes," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 38(3), pages 727-765.
    4. Packham, Analisa & Street, Brittany, 2019. "The effects of physical education on student fitness, achievement, and behavior," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 72(C), pages 1-18.
    5. Zhai, Fuhua & Raver, C. Cybele & Jones, Stephanie M., 2012. "Academic performance of subsequent schools and impacts of early interventions: Evidence from a randomized controlled trial in Head Start settings," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 34(5), pages 946-954.
    6. Wan, Sirui & Bond, Timothy N. & Lang, Kevin & Clements, Douglas H. & Sarama, Julie & Bailey, Drew H., 2021. "Is intervention fadeout a scaling artefact?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 82(C).
    7. List, John & Momeni, Fatemeh & Zenou, Yves, 2019. "Are Estimates of Early Education Programs Too Pessimistic? Evidence from a Large-Scale Field Experiment that Causally Measures Neighbor Effects," CEPR Discussion Papers 13725, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    8. Douglas J. Besharov & Douglas M. Call & Jason M. Scott, 2020. "PROTOCOL: Early childhood education programs for improving the development and achievement of low‐income children: a systematic review," Campbell Systematic Reviews, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 16(3), September.
    9. Gelber, Alexander & Isen, Adam, 2013. "Children's schooling and parents' behavior: Evidence from the Head Start Impact Study," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 101(C), pages 25-38.
    10. Christopher R. Walters, 2015. "Inputs in the Production of Early Childhood Human Capital: Evidence from Head Start," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 7(4), pages 76-102, October.
    11. Ruhm, Christopher J. & Waldfogel, Jane, 2011. "Long-Term Effects of Early Childhood Care and Education," IZA Discussion Papers 6149, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    12. F. Chris Curran, 2019. "Estimating the Relationship Between Preschool Attendance and Kindergarten Science Achievement: Implications for Early Science Achievement Gaps," Education Finance and Policy, MIT Press, vol. 14(2), pages 210-241, Spring.
    13. Alexander M. Gelber & Adam Isen, 2011. "Children's Schooling and Parents' Investment in Children: Evidence from the Head Start Impact Study," NBER Working Papers 17704, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs

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