Schools, Skills, Synapses

This is Professor Heckman’s well-known analysis of the Perry Preschool program, its economic benefits and the value of investing in quality early childhood development. The study finds that every dollar invested in quality early childhood education for disadvantaged children provides a return of 7-10% per child, per annum.

This paper discusses (a) the role of cognitive and noncognitive ability in shaping adult outcomes, (b) the early emergence of differentials in abilities between children of advantaged families and children of disadvantaged families, (c) the role of families in creating these abilities, (d) adverse trends in American families, and (e) the effectiveness of early interventions in offsetting these trends. Practical issues in the design and implementation of early childhood programs are discussed.