The HighScope Perry Preschool Study, which followed participants for almost 40 years, found that those who were enrolled in a quality preschool program were more likely to graduate high school, own homes, stay married longer, and have higher incomes later in life. And the HighScope Perry Preschool Study is not the only one to give similar results. The Carolina Abecedarian Project studied children from low-income families and placed them in full-day, high-quality educational settings from infancy through age five. The Abecedarian Project participants, at age 30, had significantly more education than those in a control group and were four-times more likely to have earned a college degree. Participants in the early education group also were more likely to be employed, less likely to have used public-assistance, and not have children as young as those in the control group.
Both of these studies, as well as others have found that the long-term benefits of preschool may well be increased social responsibility, but the positive social results could be argued to be greater than higher test standardized test scores. Few arrests, means less money spend on law enforcement and incarceration, and having fewer people need public-assistance also helps reduce the financial burden on the general public. Longer marriages mean more children growing up in two-parent homes, which has been shown to have numerous benefits in the long term.
Research shows a high return on investment for money spent on early childhood development. The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis found that the internal real rate of return for the High Scope Perry project was 16%, stating that 80% of the benefits from early childhood education in this study went to the general public. The bank then goes on to challenge government officials to find other publically funded projects that have as high as a rate on return.
According to the National Institute of Early Education Research, during the 2010-2011 school year, the national average for public preschool attendance among four-year-olds was 28%. Many states that offer some form of public preschool have done so only for disadvantaged families, which is the same goal as what President Obama has proposed. While only 28% of four-year-olds may have been enrolled in a publically funded preschool during the 2010-2011 school year that number is double what is was in 2002.