Early Childhood Education Program Yields High Economic Returns
For every $1 invested in a Chicago early childhood education program, nearly $11 is projected to return to society over the children’s lifetimes — equivalent to an 18 percent annual return on program investment, according to a study led by University of Minnesota professor of child development Arthur Reynolds in the College of Education and Human Development.
For the analysis, Reynolds and other researchers evaluated the effectiveness of the Chicago Public Schools’ federally funded Child Parent Centers (CPCs) established in 1967. Their work represents the first long-term economic analysis of an existing, large-scale early education program. Researchers surveyed study participants and their parents, and analyzed education, employment, public aid, criminal justice, substance use and child welfare records for the participants through to age 26.
“Our findings provide strong evidence that sustained high-quality early childhood programs can contribute to well-being for individuals and society,” said Reynolds, director of the Chicago Longitudinal Study and co-director of the Human Capital Research Collaborative at the University of Minnesota. “The large-scale CPC program has one of the highest economic returns of any social program for young people. As public institutions are being pressed to cut costs, our findings suggest that increasing access to high-quality programs starting in preschool and continuing into the early grades is an efficient use of public resources.”
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