The economic benefits of early childhood investments are numerous, and new research documenting them emerges frequently. We have assembled a short list of seminal studies that can help you make a strong case to business and policy leaders for early childhood investments, as well as a set of state-specific studies on the benefits they provide.
Researchers have produced a wealth of evidence of the economic benefits of programs to support children in their early years. Here we offer a limited set of seminal studies that we felt could help advocates make the strongest case to policymakers for those investments.
The Economist Intelligence Unit
The Economist Intelligence Unit wrote a report, Starting well: Benchmarking early education across the world which rates 45 countries in terms of their preschool programs, focusing on areas such as availability, affordability, and quality. The report finds that overall, the US ranks in the middle of the list.
Committee for Economic Development
This report, from the Committee for Economic Development, offers recommendations on investing in early education programs, emphasizing the need for business leaders to advocate for such programs, even in lean budget times, due to their strong return on investment. Click here to view the executive summary or click here to view the full report.
This study and fact sheet highlight the effects of psychological problems, such as depression and substance abuse, and their economic cost over the lifetime of the individual. View the fact sheet and report here.
McKinsey & Company
This report describes the total cost of the educational achievement gap on the U.S. GDP. The report finds that the United States has the economic equivalent of a permanent national recession imposed upon it due to this educational gap. View the report and summary of findings here.
Business Roundtable and Corporate Voices for Working Families
This publication details why high-quality early education is important in building a globally competitive workforce, and describes several guiding principles that define the components of high-quality programs. View the full report.
This paper is one of many that Nobel Laureate and University of Chicago economist James Heckman has produced on the benefits of investing in early childhood. Heckman now has a website dedicated to disseminating his research and other tools in advocating for these investments. View the full report. View Heckman's other research. View the Heckman Equation website.
Robert G. Lynch
In addition to the full book, Lynch has developed a set of “fact sheets” that estimate the net benefits for each state of both a universal program and a targeted one, as well as comparisons of each to the national benefits. View the fact sheets here.
Committee for Economic Development
This report, geared toward a business audience, discusses the economic benefit, to the individual, the community and the nation, in investing in high-quality early education. View the full report, or view the summary.
This poll of individuals employed by Fortune 1000 companies and other companies with at least 1,000 employees shows business leaders' support for pre-k on economic grounds. View the poll here.
Robert G. Lynch
This research details the economic returns, to society and the individual, of investing in high-quality early childhood programs. View the full report.
This report summarizes the benefits and costs of a range of preventive and early intervention programs and points out those with net economic benefits, as well as explaining the limitations of the findings.. View the summary report.
Zhilin Liu, Rosaria Ribeiro and Mildred Warner
This 2004 report from Cornell University uses input-output modeling to estimate the “multiplier effect” – how many dollars in local revenue are generated for each federal dollar spent – for each state and for specific sectors in the state. It finds that, across states, the multipliers are high compared to those for other industries.View the full report.
Kent Smetters and Jagadeesh Gokhale
This report takes a new approach to viewing the total amount of money required to indefinitely fund the U.S.'s current tax and spending policies, making clear the resulting burden on future generations. View this research on AEI's website.
Rob Grunewald and Art Rolnick
This report, by two economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, which discusses the high rate of return of the High/Scope Perry Preschool Study, was the first to compare early childhood to other, more traditional state and local investments. View the full report.
Lynn A. Karoly, Peter W. Greenwood, Susan S. Everingham, et al.
This research utilizes previous studies to further analyze whether early childhood interventions have proven benefits, and whether they are sustainable in the long term. View the full report.
Sometimes the most powerful statistic is a local one. While national studies on the benefits of early childhood programs provide valuable information for policy makers, state-specific research plays a unique role—it can shed light on state and local needs, and help shape the details of policy implementation. This section spotlights some of the best state studies, both based on original research and adaptations of existing work.
Anoshua Chaudhuri and Michael Potepan
This report details the importance of, and returns to, investments in early child care and education to the Bay Area economy. View the full report.
Geoffrey Nagle and Dek Terrell
This report suggests an economic development strategy for Louisiana based upon investment in the state's child care and early childhood education programs. View the report here.
Richard Chase and Jose Diaz, Wilder Research
This report from Wilder Research determines that in Detroit, investing in one at risk kid can yield a savings of up to $100,000, and that similar investments across the state of Michigan would return approximately $39,000 per child. View the executive summary, or click here to view the full report.
Cost savings analysis of school readiness in Michigan documents the cost savings of investing in specific pre-kindergarten education programs (Michigan’s Great Start Readiness Program and Head Start). View the full report. View the executive summary.
This report focuses on the financial burdent that is imposed upon Minnesota's K-12 system when children enter kindergarten unprepared for academic success. These costs stem from dropouts, behavioral problems, special education and school safety costs due to delingquent behavior. View the full report.
National Economic Development and Law Center
This report highlights the return on investment of early child care and education in New Jersey, describes the demographic profile for the state and the implications for the child care industry and also touches on challanges facing the industry.. View the full report.
Stephen J. Bagnato, Jennifer Salaway and Hoi Suen
This report assesses Pennsylvania's PKC program, emphasizing the importance of high-quality early childhood education and child care programs. Read the report here.
The Rhode Island Senate and Public Expenditure Council issued a joint report making recommendations to address Rhode Island's rankings on business competitiveness surveys. One area of recommendation was to better fund early childhood programs in order to prepare children for kindergarten. Read the full report here.
Roman Alvarez, Stephanie Brennan, et. al.
The ABCD’s of Texas Education: Assessing the Benefits and Cost of Reducing the Dropout Rate takes a critical look at the state’s high school dropout rate and estimates the amount that could be saved if predicted future dropouts were to graduate instead. View the executive summary, the full report or the appendices.
Elisa Aguirre, Thomas Gleeson, et. al.
A Cost-Benefit Analysis of Universally Accessible Pre-Kindergarten Education in Texas analyzes the costs and benefits for Texas of a high-quality and universally available pre-k program. View the full report, the executive summary or a one-page summary.
Joint publication of the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families and the Wisconsin Alliance for Infant Mental Health.
This report points to the high cost of early care in Wisconsin, with the goal of promoting enhancements to the state's home visiting, Early Head Start and other birth-to-five programs in order to better serve the 72% of Wisconsin's children under the age of six who have both parents in the work force. View the full report.