Remember when we boasted early education investments yield annual returns of 7 to 10 percent? New research from Nobel Prize winning economist James Heckman and his colleagues finds high-quality programs for low-income children, like Head Start, can deliver a 13 percent annual return on investment.
The study examines data collected by two preschool experiments from the 1970’s. The experiments used controls and collected extensive data on its participants beginning at birth and continuing well into adulthood. Researchers were able to examine a wide variety of outcomes, such as quality of life, health, criminal history, personal and family income, IQ, education achievement and more.
Unlike most related studies, which focus on short-term outcomes, this study identifies the long-term benefits of high-quality early education. Returns are credited to improved outcomes in education, health, employment, reductions in crime, and reductions in demand for social services.
The study concludes, “The gains are significant because quality programs pay for themselves many times over. The cost of inaction is a tragic loss of human and economic potential that we cannot afford.”
Read a summary of the report here.