At first glance, the price tag for the transformative investments in early childhood care and education included in the American Families Plan looks steep: $450 billion. And with the significant federal spending, policy scope and potential for tax increases included in President Biden’s $3.5 trillion economic package, we should be having conversations about whether this is where we want to invest our tax dollars.
This June, economists Jorge Luis García, Frederik H. Bennhoff, Duncan Ermini Leaf and Nobel laureate James Heckman released a National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) working paper that demonstrates these investments in early learning and care could produce incredible returns.
The paper returns to the Perry Preschool Project, an intervention in the 1960s where a randomized group of students who received two years of preschool sessions on weekdays and weekly teacher home visits, beginning at age 3. Because the study has followed participants into their 50s, economists can now examine the impacts the program had on the siblings and the children of the original participants, who are now well into their adulthoods.