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The Economic Benefits of Investing in High-Quality Preschool Education

May 22 2007

 The Economic Benefits of Investing in High-Quality Preschool Education

Future fiscal challenges, global economic competition, and shifting demographic trends all highlight the need for policies to improve the skills and productivity of American workers and thereby increase future living standards. A promising strategy for achieving these aims is expanding government investment in high-quality preschool education.

Government funding of education in general has long been justified on the grounds of the significant public good that comes of having an educated population. Reliable evaluations of high-quality preschool have shown that this argument extends to preschool specifically.

High-quality preschool programs improve the futures of participants by raising their ultimate educational attainment and earnings levels and by reducing the likelihood that they will engage in socially harmful behaviors. These outcomes in turn ease the burden on public resources, allowing government spending to shift toward more productive uses. As much as 80 percent of the projected benefit of high-quality preschool for disadvantaged children goes to the public. In the long term, investing in high-quality preschool available to all children has been estimated to increase gross domestic product by as much as 3.5 percent, further enhancing U.S. living standards.

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