A Benefit-Cost Analysis of Tulsa Pre-K, Based on Effects on High School Graduation and College Attendance
Upjohn Author ORCID Identifier
Policy Paper No. 2022-029
This paper presents new benefit-cost estimates for the Tulsa universal preschool program. These calculations are based on estimated effects from previous papers of Tulsa pre-K on high school graduation rates and college attendance rates of students who were enrolled in kindergarten in Tulsa Public Schools in the fall of 2006. In this paper, educational effects from these prior papers are used to infer lifetime earnings effects and are compared with program costs. Our conservative estimates of earnings effects suggest that per pre-K participant, the present value of earnings effects in 2021 dollars is $25,533, compared with program costs of $9,628, for a benefit-cost ratio of 2.65. Compared to prior benefit-cost studies of Tulsa pre-K, this benefit-cost ratio is below what was predicted from Tulsa pre-K’s estimated effects on kindergarten test scores, but above what was predicted from Tulsa pre-K’s estimated effects on grade retention by ninth grade. This fading and recovery of predicted pre-K effects as children go through K–12 and then enter adulthood is consistent with prior research. It attests to the importance of the “soft skill” effects of pre-K and reminds us that short-term studies of pre-K provide useful information for public-policy decisions.
Upjohn project #58505
EDUCATION; Preschool and early education; K-12 Education
Bartik, Timothy J., William Gormley, Sara Amadon, Douglas Hummel-Price, and James Fuller. 2022. "A Benefit-Cost Analysis of Tulsa Pre-K, Based on Effects on High School Graduation and College Attendance." Policy Paper No. 2022-029. Kalamazoo, MI: W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research. https://doi.org/10.17848/pol2022-029