December 14, 2015

NEW REPORT: Preschool programs boost achievement and reduce inequality

Studies show that preschool programs boost achievement and reduce inequality

A new report, being published on Wednesday 16th December on IZA World of Labor, presents strong evidence that preschool programs reduce inequality and improve outcomes particularly for children from disadvantaged backgrounds

Many countries face high levels of inequality of child development. In particular, there are dramatic gaps in school readiness and achievement between children from low socio-economic status families and those from high socio-economic status families, as well as gaps by immigrant status.

In a new report Jane Waldfogel of Columbia University, summarizes long-term research conducted in a number of OECD countries showing that preschool availability is associated with more complete schooling, higher earnings and positive effects on labor market outcomes. The studies show that the effects are present not just in the short term, but also in the medium and longer term. Most significantly, the effects are greater for children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

But success varies with the quality of the preschool. There is considerable evidence that quality—in particular the quality of teacher−child interactions—matters for child development. High-quality preschool requires highly educated and trained preschool staff and reasonable class sizes and teacher–student ratios. While the costs of high-quality programs are considerable, Waldfogel argues, it is also clear that high-quality preschool pays for itself several times over, both by raising students’ overall achievement and by reducing inequality of achievement.

Media Contact:

Please contact Anna Von Hahn for more information, a preview of the report or author interviews: or +44 7852 882 770 

Notes for editors:

  • IZA World of Labor ( is a global, freely available online resource that provides policy makers, academics, journalists, and researchers, with clear, concise and evidence-based knowledge on labor economics issues worldwide.
  • The site offers relevant and succinct information on topics including diversity, migration, minimum wage, youth unemployment, employment protection, development, education, gender balance, labor mobility and flexibility among others.
  • Established in 1998, the Institute for the Study of Labor ( is an independent economic research institute focused on the analysis of global labour markets. Based in Bonn, it operates an international network of about 1,300 economists and researchers spanning more than 45 countries.