An interesting retrospective study done by Chris Herbst in 2013, was recently reported by Hechingereport.org (via NIEER), about the nearly Universal Childcare instituted in the US from 1940-1946 (known as the Lanham Act) to allow more women to enter the workforce during WWII. The study examined, among other things, long-term, long-lasting effects of early childhood care for the young individuals in the care of those programs over the next 30-40 years through census analysis.
Herbst writes: “previous work finds that economically disadvantaged children—as defined by family income or parental cognitive ability—generally capture moderate to large benefits from exposure to early childhood programs, while outcomes for their more advantaged peers are either not affected or even adversely affected” and concludes, “…the Lanham Act had sizeable positive effects on a large number of long-run outcomes related to educational attainment, family formation, and labor market participation. Furthermore, the effects persisted throughout adulthood.”
He goes on to note that this effect is most noticeably positive for economically disadvantaged children. Once again, They talk about it— we do it!