Heckman Study: High-Quality Early Childhood Education Provides Salient Benefits to Low-Income Children and Mothers

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Recent results from a long-term study led by Nobel laureate James J. Heckman demonstrate that high-quality early childhood education programs provide salient, durable benefits to both disadvantaged mothers and their children.  Together with Jorge Luis García (University of Chicago), Duncan Ermini Leaf (USC), and María José Prados (USC), Heckman's team followed children from birth to age 35 in two experimental programs, the Carolina Abecedarian Project and the Carolina Approach to Responsive Education. Both programs provided free full-time care to low-income children, most of whom were black and lived with a single mother, while children in the control group stayed home or were placed in lower-quality childcare programs.

By the time the boys in the experimental programs reached age 30, their annual earnings averaged $19,800 more than those in the control group, and they had completed an additional half year of education. Girls in the experimental programs earned on average $2,500 more anually by age 30, and had two additional years of education. These results extended well beyond economic benefits: by their mid-30s, men in the experimental group were 33 percent less likely to be drug users. They also had fewer misdemeanor arrests, and were less likely to have high blood pressure. Persistent benefits extended across generations to the children's mothers, who reported higher earnings during the years their children were in the experimental programs, and even two decades later.

The experimental high-quality ECE programs cost an average of $18,514 per year per student. However, the researchers determined that the programs returned an impressive $7.30 for every dollar spent in societal benefits including lower unemployment and crime rates, and improved health outcomes. Read full New York Times story »

Heckman and Stokey elected AEA Distinguished Fellows

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We are very pleased to announce that the American Economic Association has elected James J. Heckman and Nancy L. Stokey as 2017 AEA Distinguished Fellows. Heckman is the Henry Schultz Distinguished Service Professor of Economics and the College, director of the Center for the Economics of Human Development at the University of Chicago, and the recipient of the 2000 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics. His recent research has focused on human development and lifecycle skill formation with emphasis on the economics of early childhood development, and has helped inform policymakers on education, job-training programs, anti-discrimination law, and civil rights.

Stokey is the Frederick Henry Prince Distinguished Service Professor in Economics and the College. She is a Fellow of the Econometric Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the National Academy of Sciences, and holds honorary doctorates from Northwestern University and the University of Western Ontario. She is also the Director of Graduate Studies at the Department of Economics. She has made fundamental contributions in microeconomics, economic theory, finance, and in macroeconomics, with her recent work in economic dynamics examining why countries catch up or fall behind. The American Economic Association instituted the Award of Distinguished Fellow in 1965 to recognize economists of high distinction in the United States and Canada.

Economics Department Welcomes New Faculty Members

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We are pleased to announce that Mikhail Golosov and Alexander Torgovitsky will join our department faculty beginning July 1, 2017. Golosov has been appointed the Homer J. Livingston Professor in Economics and the College, and was previously a professor of economics at Princeton University. His primary research fields include macroeconomics, public finance, and political economy. Torgovitsky, previously from Northwestern University, will join us as an Assistant Professor in Economics. His research interests include identification and inference problems in microeconometrics, with recent work focusing on developing tools for semiparametric nonlinear models in which the parameters of interest are partially identified.

We also welcome Simon Mongey (NYU) and Peter Hull (MIT). Mongey is a macroeconomist with specializations in labor economics and computational economics. He will be a post-doc at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis beginning the summer of 2017, and will join our faculty as an Assistant Professor on July 1, 2018. Hull will be a post-doc at Microsoft Research beginning the summer of 2017, a Becker Friedman Institute Research Fellow beginning the summer of 2018, and will join our faculty as an Assistant Professor on July 1, 2019. His research interests include developing new econometric techniques to answer policy questions in education and health care.

(Photo, from left: Mikhail Golosov, Alexander Torgovitsky, Simon Mongey, Peter Hull)

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