James J. Heckman Responds to New Study on Fadeout

The Center’s director James J. Heckman published a letter in the Washington Post Thursday in response to a new study that claims “that the cognitive gains of early-childhood education programs fade over time.” The study, Heckman writes, “ignores an overwhelming body of recent evidence documenting that so-called fadeout doesn’t exist.”

Professor Heckman’s recent working paper, “The Life-cycle Benefits of an Influential Early Childhood Program,” co-authored with Jorge Luis Garcia, Duncan Ermini Leaf, and Maria Jose Prados, found long-term gains from a high-quality early childhood. The program was found to permanently boost IQs and improved socio-emotional skills, “resulting in greater educational achievement, higher adult wages and significantly better health outcomes,” Heckman writes.

 

“High-quality programs enable upward mobility through the effective building of early skills,” he says. “Much more can be done to understand how these programs work and how to make them work better, but the evidence overwhelmingly points to the value of investing in quality early-childhood development from birth to age 5.”

 

You can read Professor Heckman’s letter to the editor here . The analysis he was responding to can be found here . Read more about the findings of “The Life-cycle Benefits of an Influential Early Childhood Program” in HCEO’s recent Research Spotlight .