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Early childhood programs, if designed correctly, pay big economic dividends down the road because they increase the skills of their participants. And since many of those participants will remain in the same state or local area as adults, the local economy benefits: more persons with better skills attract business, which provides more and better jobs for the local economy. Bartik measures ratios of local economic development benefits to costs for both early childhood education and business incentives. He shows that early childhood programs and the best-designed business incentives can provide local benefits that significantly exceed costs. Given this, states and municipalities would do well to adopt economic development strategies that balance high-quality business incentives with early childhood programs.


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  1. Introduction
  2. The Nature and Importance of Local Economic Development Benefits, and How They Are Affected by Labor Demand and Labor Supply
  3. Estimated Economic Development Effects of Well-Designed Business Incentive Programs
  4. The Economic Development Effects of High-Quality Early Childhood Programs
  5. Design Matters: What Features of Business Incentive Programs and Early Childhood Programs Affect their Economic Development Benefits?
  6. Dealing with the Known Unknowns: How Policymakers Should Deal with Dueling Estimates from Researchers
  7. Bringing the Future into the Present: How Policymakers Should Deal with the Delayed Benefits of Early Childhood Programs
  8. Who Benefits? Distributional Effects of Early Childhood Programs and Business Incentives, and their Implications for Policy
  9. Locality Matters: How Economic Development Benefits Vary in Diverse Local Economies
  10. The National Perspective: How Local Business Incentives and Early Childhood Programs Affect the National Economy
  11. The Ethics of Early Childhood Programs and Business Incentives
  12. Extending Economic Development Analysis to Other Human Development Programs: Education, Public Health, Crime Reduction
  13. Thinking and Acting Locally: What Potential Is There for Local Support for High-Quality Early Childhood Programs?


Appendices added as a supplemental file.


9780880993739 (cloth) ; 9780880993722 (pbk.) ; 9780880994002 (ebook)

Subject Areas

EDUCATION; Early childhood; Preschool and early education; ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT; Regional policy and planning; Business and tax incentives

Investing in Kids: Early Childhood Programs and Local Economic Development




Bartik, Timothy J. 2011. Investing in Kids: Early Childhood Programs and Local Economic Development. Kalamazoo, MI: W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research. https://doi.org/10.17848/9780880994002

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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.