The Productivity Argument for Investing in Young Children *

James Heckman, Dimitriy Masterov
2004 unpublished
Early environments play a large role in shaping later outcomes. Skill begets skill and learning begets more learning. Early advantages cumulate; so do early disadvantages. Later remediation of early deÞcits is costly, and often prohibitively so, though later investments are also necessary since investments across time are complementary. Evidence on the technology of skill formation shows the importance of early investment. At current levels of public support, America under-invests in the early
more » ... ears of its disadvantaged children. Redirecting additional funds toward the early years, before the start of traditional schooling, is a sound investment in the productivity and safety of our society.