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Research reports on early education from NIEER and outside organizations

Research Reports

Does It Pay to Invest in Preschool for All? Analyzing Return-on-Investment in Three States


March 1, 2006
AccessEconomics and FinanceGovernance and AccountabilityState & LocalUniversal and Targeted
Clive R. Belfield

This NIEER working paper summarizes three studies projecting the economic consequences of expanding preschool programs toward universal enrollment in three states - Massachusetts, Ohio and Wisconsin.

Summary

Making state-funded preschool programs available to all children removes an obstacle that has plagued programs targeted to at-risk children since such programs began – that of identifying and serving eligible children. But does it pay to invest in preschool for all?

Four steps are required for a full analysis of the economic impacts of making state-funded prekindergarten universally available:

  • Considering the consequences for prekindergarten enrollments in each state in light of existing demographics and patterns of options,
  • Calculating the unit and total costs of providing the new enrollment,
  • Measuring the economic benefits of providing universal availability and,
  • Comparing the costs and benefits.