Providing poor children with high-quality early childhood education – from birth through age 5 – results in adults who are healthier, earning higher incomes and less involved in crime, according to a new study that followed participants for 35 years.
The study showed a positive impact especially on boys and their families.
Described by the authors as “groundbreaking,” the study goes further than earlier research that showed benefits to 3– and 4-year–olds attending preschool.
Nobel laureate James Heckman and researchers from the University of Chicago and University of Southern California reached these conclusions after analyzing data related to low-income African-American children who attended two preschools in North Carolina in the early 1970s. They also studied children in control groups who either did not attend preschool or participated in lower-quality programs.
“It is hard to find early-life investments that more than pay for themselves through significant health gains,” said Dana Goldman, director of the USC Schaeffer Center. “The long-term health benefits researchers discovered for males in particular are truly remarkable and underscore the critical need to increase investment in our nation’s youngest children.”