Early Education and Adult Health: Age 37 Impacts and Economic Benefits of the Child-Parent Center Preschool Program

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This paper evaluates the long-term impacts of the Chicago Child-Parent Center (CPC) program, a comprehensive early childhood program launched in the 1960s, on the physical and mental health outcomes. This study follows a cohort of 1539 participants born in 1979-1980 and surveyed most recently at age 35-37 by employing a matched study design created by including all students who were enrolled in kindergarten classrooms in CPC school sites as well as entire kindergarten classrooms in a matched set of similar high-poverty schools. Using propensity score weighting that addresses potential issues with differential attrition and nonrandom treatment assignment, results reveal that CPC preschool participation is associated with significantly lower rates of adverse health outcomes such as smoking and diabetes. Further, evaluating the economic impacts of the preschool component of the program, the study finds a benefit-cost ratio in the range of 1.35 to 3.66 (net benefit: $3,896) indicating that the health benefits of the program by themselves offset the costs of the program even without considering additional benefits arising from increased educational attainment and reduced involvement in crime reported in earlier cost-benefit analyses. The findings are robust to corrections for multiple hypothesis testing, sensitivity analysis using a range of discount rates, and Monte Carlo analysis to account for uncertainty in outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)57-90
Number of pages34
JournalJournal of Benefit-Cost Analysis
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2022

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  • cost-benefit analysis
  • early childhood education
  • health benefits
  • impact evaluation
  • preschool

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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