UCLA’s Martha J. Bailey, along with Brenden D. Timpe & Shuqiao Sun, had their paper Prep School for Poor Kids: The Long-Run Impacts of Head Start on Human Capital and Economic Self-Sufficiency featured in the April 2021 issue of The NBER Digest. The paper evaluates the long-run effects of Head Start using large-scale, restricted 2000-2018 Census-ACS data linked to the SSA’s Numident file, which contains exact date and county of birth. Using the county rollout of Head Start between 1965 and 1980 and age-eligibility cutoffs for school entry, we find that Head Start generated large increases in adult human capital and economic self-sufficiency, including a 0.65-year increase in schooling, a 2.7-percent increase in high-school completion, an 8.5-percent increase in college enrollment, and a 39-percent increase in college completion. These estimates imply sizable, long-term returns to public investments in large-scale preschool programs.
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