Jorge Luis Garcia, James J. Heckman, Duncan Ermini Leaf, Maria Jose Prados

This paper estimates the long-term benefits from an influential early childhood program targeting disadvantaged families. The program was evaluated by random assignment and followed participants through their mid-30s. It has substantial beneficial impacts on health, children’s future labor incomes, crime, education, and mothers’ labor incomes, with greater monetized benefits for males. Lifetime returns are estimated by pooling multiple data sets using testable economic models. The overall rate of return is 13.7% per annum, and the benefit/cost ratio is 7.3. These estimates are robust to numerous sensitivity analyses.

JEL Codes  
J13: Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
I28: Education: Government Policy
C93: Field Experiments
early childhood education
gender differences
long-term prediction
quality of life
randomized trials
substitution bias