James Heckman, Ganesh Karapakula, 23 August 2019

The Perry Preschool Project was a social experiment implemented in the US in the 1960s. The oldest early childhood intervention trial with long-term follow-up, it saw five cohorts of African American children from low-income families in Ypsilanti, Michigan, randomly assigned to attend free, high-quality pre-school. This column shows some of the lasting benefits, particularly for males, of an early childhood education programme targeted at disadvantaged children – from reduced crime to improved executive functioning, socioemotional skills, earnings, and health. It also documents the intergenerational benefits of the intervention on the children of the original participants. The conclusions are supported by statistically conservative small-sample tests.

Thomas Cornelissen, Christian Dustmann, 08 June 2019

Primary education starts at age 6 or 7 in most OECD countries, but in the UK children start primary school at the age of 4 or 5. This column exploits local variation in school entry rules in the UK to investigate the effects of schooling at an early age on cognitive and non-cognitive development. It finds that early schooling boosts both cognitive and non-cognitive skills up until the age of 11. These effects tend to be strongest for boys from disadvantaged family backgrounds.

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