June 18, 2013 Leave a comment
Pre-school, dummies, pre-school!! *Thanks, DJC) Of all the low-hanging fruit of public policy we are not close to taking advantage of this, is surely it:
And, some accompanying explanation (though if you are reading this blog, this should be familiar):
The latest research, from a new National Bureau of Economic Research working paper by James Heckman and Lakshmi Raut, concludes that a policy of free preschool for all poor children would have a raft of cost-effective benefits for society and the economy: It would increase social mobility, reduce income inequality, raise college graduation rates, improve criminal behavior (saving some of the societal expenses associated with it), and yield higher tax revenue thanks to an increase in lifetime wages.
Specifically, Heckman and Raut estimate that the percentage of children whose parents never graduated from college who go on to graduate themselves would rise from 6.71 percent to 9.45 percent. And such a preschool policy would reduce the percent of the population that falls in the long run into poor socioeconomic status, from 35.71 percent to 29.14 percent. (Heckman and Raut define poor socioeconomic status as families earning less than 70 percent of the average in the economy.)
Keep such a policy in place for years, and its benefits accrue from one generation to the next. Put a child in preschool, in other words, and that improves her chances of graduating college. But it also improves the future education and earnings prospects of her children and grandchildren. Obviously, the quality of a school that a child attends later in life matters, too. And we’d be foolish to invest in preschool without continuing to invest in poor children as they age.