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Can early childhood interventions decrease inequality of economic opportunity?

This paper considers whether expanding access to center-based early childhood education (ECE) will reduce economic inequality later in life. A strong evidence base indicates that ECE is effective at improving young children's academic skills and human capital development. We review evidence that children from low-income families have lower rates of preschool enrollment than their more affluent peers. Our analysis indicates that increasing enrollments for preschoolers in the year before school entry is likely to be a worthy investment that will yield economic payoffs in the form of increased adult earnings. The benefits of even a moderately effective ECE program are likely to be sufficient to offset the costs of program expansion, and increased enrollment among low-income children may reduce later economic inequality. (author abstract)
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