Journal Article

A Contingent Valuation Approach to Measuring the Benefits of Preschool Education

By Escobar, C. M., Barnett, W. S., & Keith, J. E. (1988).

It is difficult to quantify and value many of the benefits of education. This paper illustrates the use of contingent valuation to obtain more complete estimates of the economic value of difficult-to-measure benefits of preschool education for handicapped children and presents a general approach for the use of contingent valuation in cost-benefit analysis of educational programs. Data for the illustration were obtained by surveying parents of children with handicapping conditions enrolled in preschool special education programs in Iowa. The survey was conducted jointly by the Department of Economics and the Early Intervention Research Institute at Utah State University. Results indicated that the contingent valuation method produces plausible results which are consistent with basic predictions of economic theory. Implications for policymaking and directions for further research are discussed.

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The Authors

W. Steven (Steve) Barnett is a Board of Governors Professor and the founder and Senior Co-Director of the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) at Rutgers University. Dr. Barnett’s work primarily focuses on public policies regarding early childhood education, child care, and child development.