The Behavioral Consequences of Pre-Kindergarten Participation for Disadvantaged Youth

David Figlio and Jeffrey Roth

in The Problems of Disadvantaged Youth

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print November 2009 | ISBN: 9780226309453
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226309477 | DOI:
The Behavioral Consequences of Pre-Kindergarten Participation for Disadvantaged Youth

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This chapter represents an attempt to systematically study the effects of pre-kindergarten participation on student behavior. The issue—that preschool separates parents from children during crucial years of their development as a result of either an elective or required return to the workforce—remains at the heart of the debate over its potentially zero-sum benefit/harm ratio. The study examines whether children who attended public school pre-kindergarten in Florida acquired a better grasp of socially acceptable behavior than their four-year-old peers who attended either a nonpublic preschool or no preschool at all. The analysis indicates that public pre-kindergarten leads to reduced student disciplinary problems and reduced rates of being classified emotionally disabled or severely emotionally disturbed. It is found that the favorable estimated effects of public pre-kindergarten programs are concentrated in the least advantaged communities. In relatively advantaged neighborhoods, public pre-kindergarten programs do not have appreciable behavioral benefits. This may be due to differences in community institutions, neighborhood effects, or private pre-kindergarten alternatives in these more advantaged neighborhoods.

Keywords: pre-kindergarten; student behavior; behavioral benefits; disciplinary problems; disadvantaged youth

Chapter.  12205 words. 

Subjects: Public Economics

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