Nancy Folbre, UMass Amherst economics professor, writes in the Economix blog about the value of early childhood education and why businesses should consider it a good investment. She notes that the programs have political support across the ideological spectrum, but also points out that budget cutting at the state and federal levels are likely to reduce funding for the programs. (New York Times, 6/20/11)
Economists disagree about a lot of things, but many agree that public investments in early childhood education pay off. The social benefits far exceed the social costs.
A recently released study of 1,000 poor children who benefited from Chicago’s Child-Parent Center Education Program (which includes intensive preschool, parent training and support for students through third grade), suggests that every dollar spent on the program yielded nearly $11 to society, including increased tax revenue and reduced spending on child welfare, special education and grade retention.