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Joint Economic Committee Democrats Chairman - Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM)

Investments in Preschool Can Generate Nearly 9 Times the Return on Investment

Key Points:
Inadequate investment in universal preschool led to low enrollment and missed economic returns
High quality, universal preschool has enormous social and economic benefits, including reduced incarceration
Investing in universal preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds will enable more children to attend preschool programming, allowing the U.S. to realize large future economic returns

Early childhood education provides a number of economic benefits for both participants and their families, as well as the economy as a whole. Investing in universal preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds in the United States would generate economic benefits in both the near- and the long-term.  

• In the near-term, universal preschool would boost the labor force participation of parents, particularly mothers, of young children. Washington, D.C., for example, enacted universal preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds in 2009 and saw a 12 percentage point increase in the maternal labor force participation rate by 2016, 10 percentage points of which are attributable to the universal preschool expansion.

• In the long-term, preschool programs have also been shown to generate society-wide returns through participants’ future better health, higher educational attainment, increased earnings, decreased involvement in the criminal justice system and lower likelihood to access income support, with some programs seeing returns of nearly $9 in the long run for every $1 invested.

Given these demonstrated benefits, making high-quality preschool programs available to all young children will help the economy as a whole in the long-term while also boosting parental workforce participation in the short-term.

Read the full brief here.