Long-Run Economic Effects of Early Childhood Programs on Adult Earnings

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Partnership for America’s Economic Success

A group of researchers has set out to quantify in dollars and cents the impacts in later life of early childhood programs for children up to age 5. The study found that these programs, which include those that prevent low birth weight and introduce early academic and attention skills, can translate to higher salaries when the children grow up and enter the labor force.

Conducted for the Partnership for America’s Economic Success, which advocates investments in early childhood programs, a team of three researchers from Columbia University and the University of Wisconsin- Madison developed a two-step estimation method. The method first measures how these programs benefit zero- to 5-year-olds when they reach adolescence, and then determines how achievement during adolescence can predict salaries. The researchers noted that their method probably has some shortcomings in terms of accuracy, but is useful because it achieves results without waiting decades to track individuals’ lifetime earnings. Free, 34 pages. (202) 552-2000, www. partnershipforsuccess.org/uploads/ 20090407_LongRunAdultEarningsReport. pdf.