Head Start and College Attendance

aboriginalconspiracyUrban and Civil

Nov 16, 2013 (4 years and 8 months ago)


Morgan Kinsey

Economics 398

Professor Guse

5 October 2011

Capstone Proposal

Preschool programs have come to the forefront of educational issues in
recent years, as parents with the means are frequently choosing to enroll their
children in these programs with the hopes that they will be better prepared upon
entering kindergarten. N
aturally, this raises the issue of whether or not government
assistance to give disadvantaged children these same opportunities is necessary.
Enter the Head Start program, a government
funded preschool program intended to
give disadvantaged children the op
portunity to earn the same cognitive and non
cognitive advantages that their more advantaged peers earn in other preschool
programs. The overall effectiveness of the Head Start program has been called into

as some research suggests that the benefi
ts disappear before a child has
completed elementary school, whether or not government funds should be used for
this purpose is debated. In order to determine the effectiveness of the program, I
intend to research whether or not Head Start attendees are mo
re likely to attend
college than children of their same
socioeconomic status.

I have chosen to research Head Start attendees as compared to other
children of the same socioeconomic status as opposed to all non
Head Start
attendees because children who bel
ong to higher socioeconomic groups would have
an increased likelihood of attending college for many other reasons. Furthermore, I
chose college attendance as a means of measuring Head Start’s success for several
reasons. Among disadvantaged
people, going t
o college is often one of the most
coveted goals for their children, and is often a difficult one to reach. However, in
today’s society, it is a critical stepping stone toward eventual success and upward
socioeconomic movement.

Children who attend presch
ool programs do gain a cognitive advantage over
their peers, but these children also earn more than just cognitive advantages

are several non
cognitive effects of preschool programs that put these children in a
better standing than their peers

For i

children in preschool programs will
have obtained superior social and behavioral skills than children who simply stay at
home for the earliest years of education (Neidell and Waldfogel)


evidence shows that children who attend prescho
ol are less likely to have
substantial problems later on

for instance

they are statistically less likely to
participate in crime or to experience teen pregnancy (Yoshikawa)


upon observing children at 19 years of age

it is evident that chil
dren who have been
in preschool are more likely to remain in school and earn a high school degree than
those who do not go to preschool as children (Nores et al)


studies have shown
significant health benefits that go along with preschool programs

hildren who
attend Head Start specifically are shown to be much less likely to become smokers
by the time they reach young adulthood

and preschool programs such as Head Start
also present an additional opportunity to teach and reinforce lessons about heal


drug and alcohol use

and other topics that will benefit the participants’
health in the long run (Anderson et al)

Previous research on the Head Start program does delve into the future
effects that the program may have, though many of th
em focus on more short
effects, such as success in kindergarten and elementary school. Test scores and
overall academic performance reports demonstrate that kindergarteners that have
had preschool have greater vocabularies, better basic math skills, a
nd a more solid
knowledge of letters and sounds

thus placing them ahead on the path toward
reading. Granted, these findings are in no way shocking

the students who attend
preschool programs have, of course, had an extra year or perhaps two during which
y were learning and consequently are more knowledgeable. However, it is this
head start that not only allows children to move faster through kindergarten
material, learn more, and then outperform not only at the beginning stages of
education but down the r
oad as well; but it also leaves those without it lagging
behind, and in many cases unable to catch up

thus increasing the gap between
students who have the resources to attend preschool and those who do not (Duncan
et al).


focusing on more long
erm effects of the Head Start program is
more limited

however, it does seem evident that
the benefits are substantial.
Research suggests that Head Start participants are more likely to attend college, as
well as to graduate from high school (Garces et al).

Furthermore, evidence shows
that children who attend preschool are less likely to experience problems that will
hold them back later on

for instance, they are statistically less likely to participate
in crime or to experience teen pregnancy (Yoshikawa). T
his suggests that there is a
need for further research into the topic, and consequently I would like to see
whether or not participating in preschool programs such as Head Start increases the
probability of attending college, or if the positive effects are

so diminishing
after the
earliest years of education
that it renders these programs ineffective

For my data, I plan to use data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, or
PSID. The PSID is the longest
running longitudinal household survey in the world,
and it has data on many factors of education, including on the Head Start program
and on college
attendance among families (PSID). I plan to use data
from the PSID’s
2002 Primary Caregiver Child File, as well as PSID individual data by years.

erson, Kathryn H., James E. Foster, and David E. Frisvold. “Investing in Health:
The Long
Term Impact of Head Start on Smoking.”
Economic Inquiry

(2010): 587

Aughinbaugh, Alison. “Does Head Start Yield Long
Term Benefits?”
The Journal of

36.4 (2001): 641

Currie, Janet and Duncan Thomas. “Does Head Start Make a Difference?”
American Economic Review

85.3 (1995) 341

Duncan, Greg J., Jens Ludwig and Katherine A. Magnuson. “Reducing Poverty
through Preschool Interventio
The Future of Children

17.2 (2007): 143

Garces, Eliana, Duncan Thomas and Janet Currie. “Longer
Term Effects of Head
The American Economic Review

92.4 (2002): 999

Neidell, Matthew, and Jane Waldfogel. “Cognitive and Noncognitive Pee
r Effects in
Early Education.”
Review of Economics and Statistics

92.3 (2010): 562

Nores, Milagros, Clive R. Belfield, W. Steven Barnett, and Lawrence Schweinhart.
“Updating the Economic Impacts of the High/Scope Perry Preschool
Educational E
valuation and Policy Analysis

27.3 (2005): 245

Yoshikawa, Hirokazu. “Long
Term Effects of Early Childhood Programs on Social
Outcomes and Delinquency.”
The Future of Children

5.3 (1995): 51