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Why early childhood education can significantly reduce income inequality | investinginkids

Date: January 31, 2014 Author: ITCNCCDF Categories: News

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Why early childhood education can significantly reduce income inequality

Posted on January 27, 2014 by timbartik
President Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday night is rumored to talk about a variety of measures to reduce income inequality (perhaps reframed as building “ladders of opportunity” for the poor and middle-class), including early childhood education. I thought it useful to review again why early childhood education can be of particular help in boosting the economic prospects of lower income groups, thereby reducing economic inequality.

First, even if pre-K is universally available, the evidence suggests that high-quality pre-K provides a similar dollar boost to future earnings for children from all income classes. But because children from lower-income families tend to have lower baseline future economic prospects, the percentage boost to earnings from universal pre-K is much greater for children from lower-income households.

Second, the evidence suggests that high-quality child care programs and high-quality parenting programs are much more effective in boosting future incomes for children for lower-income families than for other income groups. As a result, it makes sense for child care and parenting programs to be targeted at lower-income groups, as the benefit-cost ratio for these programs will be far greater for these groups.

How much good can early childhood education do to boost income prospects for children from low-income families? Full-day pre-K for one school year at age 4 can boost long-run earnings by 10%. A more expensive full-time child care and pre-K program from birth to age 5 can boost future earnings for children from lower-income families by 26%. High-quality parenting programs such as the Nurse Family Partnership could boost earnings another 3%. Therefore, the earnings boost from a comprehensive package of early childhood education programs could be as great as 29%.


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Why early childhood education can significantly reduce income inequality | investinginkids.