Massachusetts Fair Share

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Why Early Education is Cheaper in the Long Run

By Lauren Cappelloni

What’s the most important thing we can do to give all Americans a fair shot in life? Start young. More and more experts point to those first few years of life as a critical time to engage a developing mind. The research shows us that quality early education is a key factor to success later in life and a better future for our nation.

But how is that all connected?

A stronger preschool education, like Head Start, jump-starts students’ success in school, decreases their need for special education services and increases the chances of graduating. Those graduates now have a better chance of getting a job earlier and holding that job, allowing them to earn more money and keep out of trouble. This creates a better economy and saves tax dollars.

One of the most famous studies on preschool, the High/Scope Perry Preschool report, studied at-risk African Americans in Michigan from ages 3 to 40.  Of the participants, about half of them attended a high quality 2-year preschool while the other half did not.  At the end of the study, they saw that investing $15,166 on a child for preschool produced a return of $244,816 per participant or $16.14 per dollar for each student.

graphfromperrystudy

But the best part is that $12.90 of that earning went to the general public. Those numbers were calculated through savings on crime, education savings, increased taxes from higher earnings and welfare savings.

The breakdown of the Perry study savings looks like this:

Both the monetary and educational gains were evident throughout life as those who were part of the preschool program outperformed the students were not in the program on achievement tests in grade school and demonstrated a better aptitude for school.

Further, at age 27, 69% of the program attendees were employed and they earned a median of 12,000 (due to their smarts and diploma) while only 56% of non-program members were employed and earned a median of $10,000. Then at age 40, 76% of preschool attendees were employed earning a median of $20,800 while 62% of non-program students were employed and they earned a median of $15,300.  Overall, the students who went to a quality preschool earned 14% more than those who did not later in life.

But the research doesn’t stop there. The National Head Start Association and other organizations have conducted studies showing the long-term benefits of quality early education. Head Start graduates specifically earn $9,000 more than their peers, although each study shows a return on education investment.

  • Chicago Child-Parent Center Study: $7.14 ROI
  • The Abecedarian early childhood intervention program: $3.23 ROI
  • RAND Corporation Pre-K Study: $2.62 ROI
  • National Head Start Study: $7 to $9 ROI

Scientists have proven that a child’s first few years are critical for brain development and now research shows the long-term pay-offs of a quality preschool during those ages. Investing now in Head Start and similar preschool initiatives can help every child succeed and allow opportunities for the nation to prosper in the future.

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One comment on “Why Early Education is Cheaper in the Long Run

  1. Pingback: The Importance of Education, from Preschool to College | Massachusetts Fair Share

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This entry was posted on January 14, 2014 by in Uncategorized.
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