Research is increasingly demonstrating that investments in education provide significant benefits to children, families, and society as a whole, accelerating economic growth and promoting opportunity over time. This study describes and analyzes the benefits and costs of investing in a public, voluntary, high-quality universal prekindergarten program made available to all 3- and 4-year-olds across the United States. By breaking down these benefits and costs at the state and national levels, we show how such a program would strengthen the U.S. economy’s competitiveness while simultaneously easing a host of fiscal, social, and health problems. Over time, the program would more than pay for itself: By 2050, a universal prekindergarten program would yield $8.90 in benefits for every dollar invested and $304.7 billion in total benefits. If the ultimate aim of public policy is to promote the well-being of individuals, families, communities, and nations, then investment in early childhood education is clearly an effective strategy.
A Benefit-Cost Analysis of Universal Pre-K through 2050
If the United States were to invest in a public, voluntary, high-quality universal prekindergarten program that starts in 2016 and is fully phased in by 2017, what would its effects be in the long-run? Toggle between the buttons to visualize the different impact of a universal prekindergarten program across the U.S. or click on a state to learn more about that program in that state.