Monday, November 30, 2015
Head Start has beneficial effects on disadvantaged children compared to home alternatives
This paper organizes and synthesizes the literature on early childhood education and childcare. It goes beyond meta-analysis and reanalyzes primary data sources in a common framework, considering the evidence from means-tested demonstration programs, large-scale means-tested programs and universal programs without means testing.
The paper discusses which programs are beneficial and whether they are cost-effective for certain populations. The evidence from high-quality demonstration programs targeted toward disadvantaged children shows beneficial effects. Returns exceed costs, even accounting for the deadweight loss of collecting taxes. When proper policy counterfactuals are constructed, Head Start has beneficial effects on disadvantaged children compared to home alternatives. Universal programs benefit disadvantaged children.