The Department of Economics Applied Microeconomics Seminar Series presents

"Distributional Effects of Head Start"
with Marianne Bitler, Associate Professor of Economics, UCI

Tuesday, April 23, 2013
3:30-5:00 p.m.
Social Science Plaza B, Room 3266 Econ Library

Created in 1965, the federal Head Start program is among the more prominent educational initiatives in the US. By giving matching grants to programs providing comprehensive early education, health care, and nutritional services to poor children, and parenting training to their parents, Head Start aims to raise educational attainment levels and narrow educational inequalities. Existing research demonstrates that Head Start has short run positive impacts on cognitive outcomes that fade out for many groups by elementary school (e.g., Currie & Thomas (1995)). However, there appear to be some lasting positive impacts of Head Start on educational and other outcomes (Deming (2009), Garces, Currie & Thomas (2002), Ludwig & Miller (2007)). In this talk, Bitler uses experimental data from the Head Start Impact Study and provides the first comprehensive analysis of the distributional effects of Head Start. In particular, she focuses on the effect of Head Start on the distribution of cognitive and non-cognitive outcomes through first grade by estimating quantile treatment effects. Her analysis makes three contributions. First, she tests two competing hypotheses concerning how Head Start impacts vary across the skill distribution, the theories predicting that impacts will be concentrated at the bottom or top of the distribution. Second, recent evidence suggests that educational interventions such as smaller class sizes (Dynarski, Hyman & Schanzenbach (2011)), intensive preschools (Heckman, Moon, Pinto, Savelyev & Yavitz (2010), Anderson (2008), Schweinhart, Montie, Xiang, Barnett, Beleld & Nores (2005)), and Head Start show a `fade-out' in cognitive test scores yet yield significant positive longer-term educational and other young adult outcomes. It may be that by focusing on the mean impacts of cognitive outcomes, we have missed some persistent positive effects of test scores. Third, she provides new evidence on the impacts on non-cognitive outcomes, which are a potential channel for longer-term outcomes.

For further information, please contact Gloria Simpson, or 949-824-5788.

connect with us


© UC Irvine School of Social Sciences - 3151 Social Sciences Plaza, Irvine, CA 92697-5100 - 949.824.2766