Lifelong Gains

Less than half of low-income children have access to high-quality early childhood programs that could dramatically improve their opportunities for a better future. This statistic is tragic when one considers that skills developed in the first five years of life greatly influence success later in life. Expanding access and options for parents to access quality early childhood programs have proven benefits for individuals and society in reduced healthcare costs, increased school achievement and a more educated workforce.

This research details the evidence showing the impact high-quality early childhood programs have throughout life.


Campbell, F.; Conti, G.; Heckman, James J.; Hyeok Moon, S.; Pinto, R.; Pungello, L.; Pan, Y.
• The authors demonstrate the great potential for high-quality early child programs that incorporate health and nutrition to prevent disease and promote adult health in disadvantaged populations.
• Abecedarian also permanently boosted IQ.

Source: Campbell, Frances, Gabriella Conti, James J. Heckman, Seong Hyeok Moon, Rodrigo Pinto, Liz Pungello and Yi Pan. “Early Childhood Investments Substantially Boost Adult Health.” Science 343 (2014): 1478-1485.

Conti, G.; Heckman, James J.; Urzua, S.
• This paper examines the relationship between early health and education and adult outcomes and suggests that it is possible to promote development through early intervention.

Source: Conti, Gabriella, James Heckman, Sergio Urzua. “The Education Health Gradient.” American Economic Review: Papers & Proceedings 100 (2010): 234–238.

Heckman, J.J.; Mosso, S.
• Evidence on the importance of early childhood conditions in shaping multiple life skills. Authors James Heckman and Stefano Mosso find that parental engagement, stimulating interaction and attachment are essential for skill development and critical determinants of later-life success.

Source: Heckman, James J. and Stefano Mosso. “The Economics of Human Development and Social Mobility.” Annual Review of Economics 6.1 (2014): 689-733.

Ludwig, J.; Miller, D.L.
• The authors applied a regression discontinuity design, which is the closest method to randomized control trials in the natural environment. The authors compared counties just meeting the income level cut-off to receive assistance by implementing Head Start programs in those counties just missing the cut-off level.
• Counties receiving Head Start technical assistance from the federal government showed lower mortality rates than counties not receiving technical assistance. The lower rates were driven by drops in deaths from “Head Start susceptible causes” such as smallpox, polio and measles.

Source: Ludwig, J. and Miller, D.L. (2007). Does Head Start improve children’s life chances? Evidence from a regression discontinuity design. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 122(1), 159-208.