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The economics of investing in universal preschool education in California

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Karoly, Lynn A. & Bigelow, James H.
Publication Date: 
30 Mar 2005

Excerpt from the report:

There is increased interest in California and other states in providing universal access to publicly funded preschool education for one or two years prior to kindergarten entry. In considering such a program, policymakers and the public focus on the potential benefits from a universal preschool program, as well as the estimated costs. This study, conducted by RAND Labor and Population, a unit of the RAND Corporation, aims to inform such deliberations by conducting an analysis of the economic returns from investing in preschool education in the state of California. Specifically, we focus on the following two questions:

- What are the expected direct costs and benefits for the public sector and society as a whole of implementing a high-quality universal preschool program in California?

- What are the other potential indirect economic and non-economic benefits for California that may be associated with such a program? The analysis builds on prior research at RAND on the costs and benefits of early childhood programs, and it draws on other related studies that have examined the economic returns from preschool programs.

The analysis is tailored, as much as possible, to account for the California context in terms of demographics, costs of public-sector programs and services, and other aspects of the California economy.

This study should be of value to decision makers in the public and private sectors, as well as the public more generally, who are interested in the returns to society and other stakeholders from investing in preschool education in California and throughout the United States.