We report the effects of the Child-Parent Center Education Program on indicators of well-being up to 25 years later for more than 1400 participants. This established, publicly funded intervention begins in preschool and provides up to 6 years of service in inner-city Chicago schools. Relative to the comparison group receiving the usual services, program participation was independently linked to higher educational attainment, income, socioeconomic status (SES), and health insurance coverage, as well as lower rates of justice-system involvement and substance abuse. Evidence of enduring effects was strongest for preschool, especially for males and children of high school dropouts.
The study found that the children who received preschool were more likely to finish high school, less likely to be arrested and make more money.
In addition to preschool clearly making these individuals better, it must have had an impact on the federal and local budgets. Higher incomes means more tax revenue and less spending on social services/incarceration.
Looking at this data if our politicians were actually was concerned about our long term deficit clearly the first thing to do would be to take advantage of the government’s ability to borrow really cheap at this moment and invest in universal preschool. The extremely modest cost of providing children with preschool would be returned many times over in the following decades through higher tax payments and reduced social service utilization.
It is quite possible the best financial, not to mention moral, invest our country could make at this moment given that ten year treasury bonds yields under 3 percent. It would be a move that would immediately create a large number of new jobs, improve people’s lives, and reduce our deficit over the long term. It is win-win.
Of course the so called “deficit hawks” will refuse to even consider it, because current deficit hysteria has nothing to do with government debt. It is just about creating a crisis to justify forcing austerity on regular people.