A Benefit-Cost Analysis of the Tulsa Universal Pre-K Program

Upjohn Institute Working Paper 16-261

65 Pages Posted: 27 Aug 2016

See all articles by Timothy Bartik

Timothy Bartik

W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research

Jonathan Belford

Youth Development, Child Trends

William T. Gormley

Georgetown University - Public Policy Institute (GPPI)

Sara Anderson

West Virginia University

Date Written: August 26, 2016

Abstract

In this paper, benefits and costs are estimated for a universal pre-K program, provided by Tulsa Public Schools. Benefits are derived from estimated effects of Tulsa pre-K on retention by grade 9. Retention effects are projected to dollar benefits from future earnings increases and crime reductions. Based on these estimates, Tulsa pre-K has benefits that exceed costs by about 2-to-1. This benefit cost ratio is far less than the much higher benefit-cost ratios (ranging from 8-to-1 to 16-to-1) for more targeted and intensive pre-K programs, such as Perry Preschool and the Chicago Child-Parent Center (CPC) program. Comparing benefit-cost results from different studies suggests that our more modest estimates are due to two factors: 1) smaller percentage effects of pre-K on future earnings and crime in Tulsa than in Perry and CPC, and 2) smaller baseline crime rates in Tulsa than in the Perry and CPC comparison groups.

Keywords: Universal pre-K, benefit-cost analysis, grade retention, crime reduction effects of education, increased earnings effects of education

JEL Classification: I28, I26, H43

Suggested Citation

Bartik, Timothy and Belford, Jonathan and Gormley, William T. and Anderson, Sara, A Benefit-Cost Analysis of the Tulsa Universal Pre-K Program (August 26, 2016). Upjohn Institute Working Paper 16-261, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2830528 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2830528

Timothy Bartik (Contact Author)

W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research ( email )

300 South Westnedge Avenue
Kalamazoo, MI 49007-4686
United States

Jonathan Belford

Youth Development, Child Trends ( email )

Bethesda, MD 20814
United States

William T. Gormley

Georgetown University - Public Policy Institute (GPPI) ( email )

3600 N Street, NW Suite 200
Washington, DC 20057
United States

Sara Anderson

West Virginia University ( email )

PO Box 6025
Morgantown, WV 26506
United States

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