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Lawrence J. Schweinhart, Jeanne Montie, Zongping Xiang, W. Steven Barnett, Clive R. Belfield, Milagros Nores
This experiment randomly assigns 123 children (aged 3 to 4) living in poverty into two groups. One group takes part in a preschool program, while the other group does not. The study examines differences between the groups nearly four decades later, when the participants are 40 years old. Overall, they find that those who had participated in the preschool program were substantially better off economically, socially, and health-wise. For example, participants had higher salaries, more stable jobs, a higher probability of graduating high school, and a lower probability of having been arrested, a lower probability of using drugs, and a higher probability of reporting getting along well with their families.
This long-term study finds substantial effects for investing in preschool programs. Participating in the program led to benefits in multiple aspects of life. Further, cost-analysis shows that the program is highly cost effective. The return on the $15,166 investment per participant totaled over $244,812, due largely to decreased crime rates. This represents roughly a 1,500% return on investment.
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