What is the ROI of early education?

A friend just forwarded me a link to an article from Jan 16 in BloombergBusinessWeek, The Heckman Equation: Early Childhood Education Benefits All. It’s well worth reading. The Nobel Prize winning economist, James Heckman, has calculated the ROI of very early education (3 and 4 year olds). He calculated that each dollar invested at age 4 returns from 60 to 300% by age 65; the return coming from better education, lower incarceration, higher lifetime earnings, etc.

Heckman’s analysis and his efforts promoting the benefits of early childhood education over a long period have been politically influential as Republicans and Democrats alike respond to the ROI argument. At MCH’s Early Childhood Marketing Leadership Council meeting last October, the same themes arose. In fact, our panel of experts pointed out that the ROI on even earlier education, ages 0 to 2, is even higher. There is bipartisan federal legislation afoot to strengthen regulations on the family day cares that cater to many infants and the prospect of more funding also. Looks like there may be boom times in the early childhood market over the next decade.