Jorge Luis Garcia
James J. Heckman

A recent comment published in Science argues that the evidence on the long-term effects of early childhood education is unsettled. We qualify this comment and contrast it with comprehensive studies based on established principles of scientific practice. Burchinal et al. (2024) base their assessment on flawed experimental evaluations. They mischaracterize the state of knowledge by selectively evaluating evidence and ignoring rigorous, long-term studies based on the Perry Preschool and Carolina Abecedarian Projects. High-quality early childhood education programs achieve consistent long-term benefits when proper controls and standardizations are applied. An essential mechanism for their success is fostering parental investment and effective parenting. We underscore the necessity of mechanism-focused research to guide early childhood education policies. Well-conducted studies demonstrate the long-term effectiveness of high-quality early education programs, including Head Start.

Publication Type
Working Paper
File Description
First version, June 5, 2024
JEL Codes
I00: Health, Education, and Welfare: General
J24: Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
J13: Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
D04: Microeconomic Policy: Formulation; Implementation; Evaluation
early childhood education
Perry Preschool Project
Abecedarian Project
evaluation of social programs