When this blog discusses human capital, we tend to do so from the perspective of human capital in the workplace. Today we’ll look a little earlier. In his weekly column today, David Leonhardt of the New York Times highlights a new academic study on the effects of kindergarten on future outcomes.
The research, by Raj Chetty and colleagues, examined what’s happened to almost 12,000 children who were included in a large educational experiment in Tennessee in the 1980s. They find that students who learned more in kindergarten went on to earn more money and were less likely to become teenage parents (as well as a variety of other positive outcomes).
Extensive research has been done on the positive economic effects of education, but almost none of it has reached all the way back to kindergarten. As Leonhardt notes, this new research suggests that early education may be an example of a long-term investment that has benefits that don’t fade away. We should always be on the lookout for how to take advantage of those sorts of opportunities.