Early education

Lane Kenworthy, The Good Society
October 2014

The United States led the way in establishing universal elementary and secondary schooling and in expanding access to college. But in early education, for children aged one to four, America lags well behind some other rich nations.


The potential benefits are two. First, many Americans with prekindergarten children want to combine family with paid work.1 But out-of-home care can be prohibitively expensive. American parents with a child younger than age five in out-of-home care currently pay, on average, about $9,000 per year for that care. For families with incomes below $18,000 who pay for out-of-home care, the average cost amounts to 40% of household income. For those with incomes between $18,000 and $36,000, the average is 20% of income.2 Faced with such unaffordable costs, some parents settle for care that is mediocre or poor.3 Others simply forgo employment.4

Denmark and Sweden offer an alternative model. Beginning in the 1960s, these countries introduced and then steadily expanded paid parental leave and publicly-funded childcare and preschool. Today, Swedish and Danish parents can take a paid year off work following the birth of a child. After that, parents can put the child in a public or licensed private early education center. The quality tends to be high, as early education teachers get training and pay comparable to elementary school teachers. Parents pay a fee, but the cost is capped at less than 10% of a household’s income.5

We can see the impact in employment patterns. Among mothers whose youngest child is six to sixteen years old, and thus eligible for free K-12 schooling, the employment rate in the US is just a few percentage points lower than in Denmark and Sweden. Among mothers with a child younger than six, it’s 15 percentage points lower.6

Second, evidence increasingly suggests that good-quality universal early education helps to equalize opportunity by improving the capabilities of children from less advantaged homes.

Americans are strong believers in equality of opportunity. More than 90% think “our society should do what is necessary to make sure that everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed.”7 But family conditions are a big impediment. Some children have parents who read to them, instill helpful traits such as self-control and persistence, shield them from stress and physical harm, expose them to new information and learning opportunities, assist them with homework, provide connections that help them get out of trouble or into a good job, remain in a stable relationship throughout the childhood years, and so on. Other children are less fortunate.8 As a result, whereas an American born into a family in the top fifth of incomes has roughly an 80% chance of ending up in the middle fifth or higher in adulthood, an American born into the bottom fifth has only a 30% chance of reaching the middle fifth or higher.9

Schools help to offset the massive differences in capabilities caused by families. How do we know that? Children from poor homes tend to have much lower measurable skills than children from affluent homes at kindergarten entry. Given the huge variation in home and neighborhood circumstances, we would expect that gap to continue to widen throughout childhood. But it doesn’t; it’s about the same size at the end of high school.10 This tells us that schools have an equalizing effect. Also, during summer vacations, when children are out of school, those from lower-income families tend to fall farther behind.11

Having children enter school earlier in life could reduce the disparity when they arrive for kindergarten. Indeed, some analysts conclude that the impact of schooling is larger before kindergarten than after.12

The effects of three high-quality early education programs — the Perry Preschool Program in Michigan in the 1960s, the Abecedarian Project in North Carolina in the 1970s, and the Child-Parent Center Education Program in Chicago in the 1970s — have been tracked into early adulthood or beyond. Each program appears to have had positive effects for low-income children that persist throughout the life course. That’s also the case with a short-lived but large-scale childcare program put in place in the 1940s during World War II. For the Perry and Chicago Programs, gains in test scores faded away but there were long-term gains in labor market success and other outcomes. The same appears to be true for Head Start. This suggests that the key improvement is in noncognitive skills more than in cognitive ability. On the other hand, the Abecedarian Project yielded better long-term behavioral outcomes along with sustained gains in test scores. A natural experiment in Denmark also found lasting test-score gains. So early education’s benefits for children from less advantaged homes may come via both cognitive and noncognitive skills.13

Skeptics point to findings of little apparent impact of existing universal preschool programs for four-year-olds in Oklahoma and Georgia. But these programs are too new to assess long-run effects.14

The Nordic countries, particularly Denmark and Sweden, have had universal early education systems in place for a generation. This may help account for why opportunity is more equal — children’s cognitive abilities, likelihood of completing high school and college, and labor market success depend less on their parents’ education, income, and parenting practices — in these countries than in others.15

The most informative test is one that looks at differences across countries in changes over time.16 If early education helps to equalize opportunity, we would expect a greater equalization over time in Sweden and Denmark than in countries that didn’t adopt universal early education. According to Gøsta Esping-Andersen, that is indeed what happened17:

“I use the IALS [International Adult Literacy Survey] data to compare social origin effects on the probability of completing upper-level secondary education across birth cohorts…. The analyses follow three cohorts, the oldest born in the late 1940s and early 1950s; the youngest in the 1970s. And I compare ‘social inheritance’ trends in the three Nordic countries with Germany, the UK, and the US.

“The results are very consistent with a ‘constant flux’ scenario in Germany, the UK, and the US. In these countries we see no decline whatsoever in the impact of origins on educational attainment across the cohorts — which is to say, over a half century…. In contrast, there is a very significant decline in the association in all three Scandinavian countries, and the drop occurs primarily in the youngest cohort — the first to enjoy near-universal participation in child care. To exemplify, the probability of attaining higher education was, for the oldest cohort, a fifth as great as for those whose parents had high education. For the youngest Danish cohort, the relative probability has declined to only a half.

“These results do not, of course, tell us whether equalization was due to child care…. But the coincidence of timing is very suggestive. It is evident, especially in Denmark and Sweden, that the big leap in equalization is centered in the youngest cohort. This is, in fact, the first cohort in which the majority of children came to be enrolled in pre-school institutions in either country.”

In sum, good-quality universal early education would improve work-family balance and likely would reduce inequality of opportunity.18


Do we need government to step in? Why can’t we leave early education to the market?

A good early education system will combine three features: accessibility, affordability, and quality. For Americans able and willing to pay a lot for childcare, our current market-based system typically delivers all three. But for those with low to moderate incomes, getting access to affordable care often means sacrificing quality.19 A universal system with public funding and some direct public provision could change this, ensuring good-quality care to everyone at an affordable price.

Should government pay for early education? The argument in favor is that this is the only way to make it affordable for all. Government already is involved: the federal government funds Head Start, some special education services, and tax breaks for childcare, and some state governments fund preschool for four-year-olds and subsidize childcare for poor families. Yet current funding is nowhere near sufficient to ensure that everyone has access to good-quality care and preschool.

Should government also provide early education? Those who say yes contend that this is the only way to guarantee universal access to preschool and care that’s above an acceptable quality threshold. On the other hand, it isn’t necessary that government be the sole provider. Denmark and Sweden allow private providers, as long as they meet quality standards. In many districts across the US we allow private providers for publicly-funded K-12 schooling (charter schools), and we allow private doctors and hospitals to provide medical care for Medicare and Medicaid recipients.

What’s the ideal mix? We don’t know. Maybe it’s 25% of kids in public early education centers, or perhaps it’s 75%. This depends largely on how many private providers can combine good quality with a reasonable rate of return.


Why not simply increase access to good-quality early education, for instance by expanding Head Start? The argument for universal early education is threefold. First, it isn’t just low-income parents who struggle to find good-quality care that’s affordable. Middle-class parents do too. Second, family structure and parents’ traits and behaviors are key sources of disadvantage, and they don’t overlap perfectly with family income. If we target low-income households, we’ll miss many children who need help. Third, development of cognitive and especially noncognitive skills is aided by peer interaction. Children from less advantaged homes gain by mixing with kids from middle-class homes, which doesn’t happen in a program that exclusively serves the poor.20


Should we encourage parents to put their kids in out-of-home early education immediately after birth? Probably not. Research suggests children tend to fare best staying with a parent during the first year of life.21

Along with facilitating early education for kids aged one to four, therefore, it might be good to enable more parents to stay home with their children during the first year.22 Right now, US law requires that firms with 50 or more employees grant 12 weeks of unpaid leave to new parents.23 Some large firms offer paid leave, but that’s entirely voluntary. Here too, the Danes and Swedes arguably have it about right. They provide tax-funded paid parental leave for roughly one year. A portion is use-it-or-lose-it for the father; if he chooses not to take any leave, the couple loses that time. Otherwise they are free to split the leave however they like.


The bill to taxpayers will depend on specific details, but a rough estimate is 1% of GDP, or $160 billion, per year. This is for early education only; it doesn’t include paid parental leave.24

There are two ways to reach this number. First, suppose 75% of children aged one to four end up enrolled in early education. That’s 12 million children. If we spend $10,500 per child, the same as for K-12 schools,25 total expenditures would be around $125 billion. We’ll want a better teacher-child ratio for early education, which will increase the cost a bit.26

Second, public expenditure on early education in Denmark and Sweden is about 1.5% of GDP.27 We’re likely to end up with more private provision and we have a larger per capita GDP, so 1% of our GDP might well be sufficient to create a system that approximates theirs in quality and accessibility.28

Over the long run, universal early education might pay for itself via higher employment and productivity.29 In the short run it will require additional tax revenue. How much will taxes increase for individual households? If the distribution of new tax payments needed to fund early education is the same as for existing tax payments, households in the bottom fifth of incomes will pay $133 more per year, those in the lower-middle fifth $333, those in the middle fifth $666, those in the upper-middle fifth $1,266, and those in the top fifth $4,200.30 These amounts are fairly small — an advantage of spreading the bill across the population.31 And actual increases in tax payments probably would be even smaller, since we already spend some public money on early education.

Moreover, some of the needed revenue can come from user fees. Early education is different from police protection and health care, the kinds of services that almost no one opts to go without. Even if good early education programs were readily available, some families would choose not to use them because they prefer to provide stay-at-home parental care for their young children. And of course some American adults have no children. This argues for having parents who do want to use early education pay something — even parents with low incomes. Here too the Nordic approach is sensible; in Denmark and Sweden programs charge on a sliding scale, with the fee rising in proportion to family income, but never going above 10%.


Opponents of universal publicly-funded early education for the United States offer a number of objections and counterarguments.

First, when someone suggests borrowing a policy or institution from the Nordic countries, skeptics point out that these countries are very different from America. They’re small, they’re more ethnically and racially homogenous, and their cultures and histories are quite distinct from ours. What works there, in other words, won’t necessarily work here.

While it’s true that these countries are different, that doesn’t justify blanket skepticism about borrowing. We need to consider the particulars of the policy in question. It’s not clear why a system of publicly-funded early education centers (schools) can function effectively only in a small homogenous country. France does this, even though it’s a pretty large nation. Belgium does too, despite its diversity.32 And the United States does a reasonably good job with kindergartens and elementary schools. Education experts and ordinary Americans routinely profess dissatisfaction with the country’s K-12 public schools. But recall the evidence mentioned earlier: inequality in capabilities expands when children aren’t in school (before kindergarten and during summers), while K-12 schools hold it at bay. American schools could be better, to be sure, but for less advantaged children they are, even in their current condition, far more helpful than the likely alternative.

A second objection is that we don’t know how large the impact of early education will be in boosting the capabilities of children from less advantaged families. The expectation of a sizeable effect is compelling, and we have supportive evidence from K-12 schooling, from three high-quality early education programs, and from cross-country comparison. But that evidence is limited.33 Proponents counter that because equalizing opportunity is such a prized goal, even a modest improvement would make early education worthwhile, and that regardless of its impact on opportunity, it will be of considerable benefit in helping parents balance work and family.

Third, some contend that more government spending and higher taxes will hurt the economy. But the relevant evidence says otherwise.34

Fourth, some believe government provision of services and benefits weakens families.35 If parents have access to affordable good-quality childcare and preschool, will they be less likely to stay together or get married in the first place? That’s conceivable, but the historical and comparative evidence suggests reason for skepticism. Enrollment in elementary and secondary schools grew steadily in the United States from the late 1800s until around 1960, but it was in the 1960s, after the rise in school enrollment slowed sharply, that rates of divorce and out-of-wedlock birth shot up.36 And more children grow up with both parents in Denmark, France, and Sweden, each of which has a universal early education system, than in the United States.37

Fifth, some worry about rent-seeking if a substantial amount of early education is publicly provided. Public-sector employees may be able to get above-market pay and benefits, increasing the cost to taxpayers.38 The evidence on this is mixed.39 Proponents draw a parallel with the military, police protection, fire fighting, medical care, K-12 schooling, and other services. Most Americans judge it worthwhile to pay for these services even if there is some rent-seeking.

A sixth objection suggests that publicly-provided services tend to be of low quality. Yet the evidence from our public K-12 schools offers cause for optimism. While there is lots of room for improvement, they do help to equalize opportunity. They also, of course, facilitate employment by parents. Public early education would do the same.

Finally, why not just give the money to parents and let them choose whether to use it on early education or on something else? The argument against doing so is that if early education has individual and social benefits, it makes sense to require that the money be used for that and only that. The same is true of safety (military, police), infrastructure (roads, bridges), health insurance (Medicare, Medicaid), and K-12 schooling, among others. It’s worth emphasizing that no one would be forced to enroll their children in early education; parents who prefer to stay home with their children during the first five years would still be able to do so.


Universal publicly-funded high-quality early education would facilitate work-family balance for Americans, and the best available evidence suggests it would enhance opportunity for children who grow up in less-advantaged homes. The likely cost would be about 1% of GDP.

  1. Americans used to worry about mothers of young children working outside the home. In the late 1970s, 68% believed “a preschool child is likely to suffer if his or her mother works.” But by 2012, the share had shrunk to 35% (General Social Survey, variable fepresch). Indeed, nowadays support for paid work among mothers of young kids spans the political spectrum. Many conservatives favor strict time limits on receipt of government benefits in order to encourage mothers’ employment, and gender egalitarians point out that four or five years out of the work force (more if there is a second or third child) puts women at a severe disadvantage for later employment and earnings. See Ron Haskins, Work Over Welfare, Brookings Institution Press, 2007; Janet C. Gornick, Marcia K. Meyers, et al, Gender Equality, Verso, 2009. 
  2. Lynda Laughlin, “Who’s Minding the Kids? Child Care Arrangements: Spring 2011,” US Census Bureau, 2013, table 6, using data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP). See also Ajay Chaudry et al, “Child Care Choices of Low-Income Working Families,” Urban Institute, 2011; ChildCare Aware of America, “Parents and the High Cost of Child Care,” 2012. 
  3. Deborah Lowe Vandell and Barbara Wolfe, “Child Care Quality: Does It Matter and Does It Need to Be Improved?” Special Report 78, Institute for Research on Poverty, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2000; Jane Waldfogel, What Children Need, Harvard University Press, 2006; W. Steven Barnett et al, The State of Preschool 2012, National Institute for Early Education Research; Jonathan Cohn, “The Hell of American Day Care,” The New Republic, 2013. 
  4. The labor force participation rate of mothers with children younger than six is just 65%. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Employment Characteristics of Families — 2012,” using Current Population Survey data. 
  5. OECD, Starting Strong II: Early Childhood Education and Care, 2006; OECD, Doing Better for Families, 2011; Miriam Nordfors, “Sweden Solves Two Problems at Once,” New York Times: Room for Debate, 2013. 
  6. OECD, Doing Better for Families, figure 1.9. For more comparative evidence, see Olivier Thévenon, “Drivers of Female Labor Force Participation in the OECD,” OECD Social, Employment, and Migration Working Papers No. 145, 2013. For Denmark-specific evidence, see Marianne Simonsen, “Availability and Price of High Quality Day Care and Female Employment,” Working Paper 2005-08, Department of Economics, University of Aarhus, 2005. For US-specific evidence, see Janice Compton and Robert A. Pollak, “Family Proximity, Childcare, and Women’s Labor Force Attachment,” Working Paper 17678, National Bureau of Economic Research, 2011; Elizabeth U. Cascio and Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, “The Impacts of Expanding Access to High-Quality Preschool Education,” Working Paper 19735, National Bureau of Economic Research, 2013. Timothy Bartik concludes that the employment benefits of early education are not just in the quantity of jobs but also their quality. See Bartik, Investing in Kids: Early Childhood Programs and Local Economic Development, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, 2011. 
  7. Pew Research Center, 1987-2012. 
  8. Greg J. Duncan and Richard J. Murnane, eds., Whither Opportunity? Rising Inequality, Schools, and Children’s Life Chances, Russell Sage Foundation and Spencer Foundation, 2011; Annette Lareau, Unequal Childhoods, 2nd edition, University of California Press, 2011; Lane Kenworthy, “Equality of Opportunity,” The Good Society. 
  9. Economic Mobility Project, “Pursuing the American Dream: Economic Mobility Across Generations,” Pew Charitable Trusts, 2012. These numbers are for Americans born between the mid-1960s and the mid-1980s. In a society with perfectly equal opportunity, every person would have a 20% chance of landing on each of the five rungs of the income ladder and a 60% chance of landing on the middle rung or a higher one. 
  10. James J. Heckman, “Schools, Skills, and Synapses,” Working Paper 14064, National Bureau of Economic Research, 2008; Sean F. Reardon, “The Widening Academic-Achievement Gap Between the Rich and the Poor: New Evidence and Possible Explanations,” in Whither Opportunity?, figure 5.5; John Ermisch, Markus Jäntti, and Timothy Smeeding, eds., From Parents to Children: The Intergenerational Transmission of Advantage, Russell Sage Foundation, 2012, pp. 465-468; Bruce Bradbury, Miles Corak, Jane Waldfogel, and Elizabeth Washbrook, Too Many Children Left Behind, Russell Sage Foundation, 2015, chs. 4-6. 
  11. Douglas B. Downey, Paul T. von Hippel, and Beckett A. Broh, “Are Schools the Great Equalizer? Cognitive Inequality during the Summer Months and the School Year,” American Sociological Review, 2004; Karl L. Alexander, Doris R. Entwisle, and Linda Steffel Olson, “Lasting Consequences of the Summer Learning Gap,” American Sociological Review, 2007. For discussion of additional findings from natural experiments in which children go without schooling, see Richard E. Nisbett, Intelligence and How to Get It, W.W. Norton, 2009, ch. 3. 
  12. Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, “What We Can Expect from Early Childhood Intervention Programs,” Society for Research in Child Development, 2003; Heckman, “Schools, Skills, and Synapses”; Douglas Almond and Janet Currie, “Human Capital Development Before Age Five,” Working Paper 15827, National Bureau of Economic Research, 2010. 
  13. Heckman, “Schools, Skills, and Synapses”; David Deming, “Early Childhood Intervention and Life-Cycle Skill Development: Evidence from Head Start,” American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, 2009; Arthur J. Reynolds et al, “Age 26 Cost-Benefit Analysis of the Child-Parent Center Early Education Program,” Child Development, 2011; Gøsta Esping-Andersen, Irwin Garfinkel, Wen-Jui Han, Katherine Magnuson, Sander Wagner, and Jane Waldfogel, “Child Care and School Performance in Denmark and the United States,” Children and Youth Services Review, 2012; Greg J. Duncan and Katherine Magnuson, “Investing in Preschool Programs,” Journal of Economic Perspectives, 2013; Chris M. Herbst, “Universal Child Care, Maternal Employment, and Children’s Long-Run Outcomes: Evidence from the U.S. Lanham Act of 1940,” IZA Discussion Paper 7846, 2013; Hirokazu Yoshikawa, Christina Weiland, et al, “Investing in Our Future: The Evidence Base on Preschool,” Society for Research in Child Development and Foundation for Child Development, 2013; Timothy J. Bartik, From Preschool to Prosperity, Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, 2014; Pedro Carneiro and Rita Ginja, “Long-Term Impacts of Compensatory Preschool on Health and Behavior: Evidence from Head Start,” American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, 2014. 
  14. Duncan and Magnuson, “Investing in Preschool Programs.” See also W. Steven Barnett, “Getting the Facts Right on Pre-K,” National Institute for Early Education Research, 2013. 
  15. Gøsta Esping-Andersen, The Incomplete Revolution, Polity, 2009, ch. 4; Tarjei Havnes and Magne Mogstad, “Is Universal Child Care Leveling the Playing Field?,” IZA Discussion Paper 4978, 2010; Ermisch, Jäntti, and Smeeding, eds., From Parents to Children. 
  16. Lane Kenworthy, “How Do We Know?,” The Good Society. 
  17. Esping-Andersen, The Incomplete Revolution, pp. 135-36. 
  18. A possible third benefit is faster economic growth. If universal early education increases employment by mothers and improves the capabilities of Americans who grow up in less advantaged homes, it may boost the economy’s growth rate. But there are grounds for skepticism. Though the Nordic countries have had universal early education for several decades, their economies don’t grow more rapidly now than they used to. Nor do they (apart from oil-rich Norway) grow faster than other affluent nations. If early education does increase economic growth, its impact probably is small enough that it’s overshadowed by the myriad other determinants of national growth rates. A fourth potential benefit is higher fertility. Families that know having a child won’t severely interrupt the work career of either the father or mother are more likely to have the number of children they desire. If we look across Europe, countries with universal early education tend to have higher fertility rates; see Francis G. Castles, “The World Turned Upside Down: Below Replacement Fertility, Changing Preferences, and Family-Friendly Public Policy in 21 OECD Countries,” Journal of European Public Policy, 2003; OECD, Doing Better for Families, ch. 3; Esping-Andersen, The Incomplete Revolution. But this doesn’t seem to be a significant barrier to fertility in the United States. 
  19. See note 2. 
  20. Eric A. Hanushek, John F. Kain, Jacob M. Markman, and Steven G. Rivkin, “Does Peer Ability Affect Student Achievement?” Working Paper 8502, National Bureau of Economic Research, 2001; Heckman, “Schools, Skills, and Synapses”; Robert Bauchmüller, Mette Gørtz and Astrid Würtz Rasmussen, “Long-Run Benefits from Universal High-Quality Preschooling,” AKF Working Paper, 2011; Barnett, “Getting the Facts Right on Pre-K.” 
  21. Waldfogel, What Children Need, ch. 2; Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, Wen-Jui Han, and Jane Waldfogel, “First-Year Maternal Employment and Child Development in the First Seven Years,” Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 2010; Maria del Carmen Huerta et al, “Early Maternal Employment and Child Development in Five OECD Countries,” OECD Social, Employment, and Migration Working Paper 118, 2011. 
  22. The apparent impact of California’s paid leave program is encouraging. See Maya Rossin-Slater, Christopher J. Ruhm, and Jane Waldfogel, “The Effects of California’s Paid Family Leave Program on Mothers’ Leave-Taking and Subsequent Labor Market Outcomes,” Journal of Public Policy Analysis and Management, 2013. 
  23. The 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act. 
  24. Timothy Bartik proposes an alternative that he estimates would cost half as much, or about 0.5% of GDP. It includes universal pre-K available to all four-year-olds, targeted full-time full-year childcare and pre-K available for all disadvantaged children from birth to age five, and targeted parenting services for first-time disadvantaged mothers and their children from the prenatal period until age two. See Bartik, From Preschool to Prosperity, ch. 7. 
  25. Our public spending on K-12 education is about 3.5% of GDP, or $525 billion, and there are 50 million students in our public K-12 schools (the enrollment rate is 85-90%). Data source: OECD, Education at a Glance, various years, table B2.3. 
  26. New York City and Boston each spend about $10,000 per child on their well-regarded public prekindergarten programs. Data source: David Kirp, “How New York Made Pre-K a Success,” New York Times, 2016. 
  27. OECD, Doing Better for Families, figure 1.11. 
  28. This estimate of the cost is far higher than that of recent proposals by the Obama administration and the Center for American Progress. That’s because those proposals are for relatively small additions to our current system. See Obama Administration 2014 Budget Proposal; Cynthia G. Brown, Donna Cooper, Juliana Herman, Melissa Lazarín, Michael Linden, Sasha Post, and Neera Tanden, “Investing in Our Children: A Plan to Expand Access to Preschool and Child Care,” Center for American Progress, 2013. 
  29. Heckman, “Schools, Skills, and Synapses”; Esping-Andersen, The Incomplete Revolution; Bartik, From Preschool to Prosperity. 
  30. According to Citizens for Tax Justice (“America’s Tax System Is Not as Progressive as You Think,” 2011), if we take all types of taxes into account — federal, state, and local (personal and corporate income, payroll, property, sales, excise, estate, etc.) — households in the bottom fifth of incomes pay about 2% of the taxes, those in the lower-middle fifth pay 5%, those in the middle fifth pay 10%, those in the upper-middle fifth pay 19%, and those in the top fifth pay 63%. Each fifth has about 24 million households. The amount paid by households in the bottom fifth is calculated as $160 billion (the total tax revenue needed) multiplied by .02 (this group will account for 2% of the revenues) divided by 24 million (the number of households in this group) = $133. The calculation is analogous for the other four groups. 
  31. The $4,200 tab for those in the top fifth might seem large, but that’s the average for this group. We can break this down further. Those between the 80th and 90th percentiles would pay $2,000 more per year, those between the 90th and 95th percentiles $2,933, those between the 95th and 99th percentiles $5,333, and those in the top 1 percent (average income above $1 million) $29,333. 
  32. Barbara R. Bergmann, Saving Our Children from Poverty: What the United States Can Learn from France, Russell Sage Foundation, 1996; Janet C. Gornick and Marcia K. Meyers, Families That Work, Russell Sage Foundation, 2003; OECD, Doing Better for Families; Claire Lundberg, “Maybe Working Moms Can Have It All — in France,” Slate, 2012. 
  33. Amy E. Lowenstein, “Early Care and Education as Educational Panacea: What Do We Really Know About Its Effectiveness?” Educational Policy, 2010; Charles Murray, “Response to Heckman: Weighing the Evidence,” Boston Review, 2012; Grover J. “Russ” Whitehurst, “Can We Be Hard-Headed About Preschool? A Look at Universal and Targeted Pre-K,” Brookings Institution, 2013; Whitehurst, “Does Pre-K Work? It Depends on How Picky You Are,” Brookings Institution, 2014; Will Wilkinson, “Does Subsidized Preschool Pay Off?” The Economist: Democracy in America, 2013; David J. Armor and Sonia Sousa, “The Dubious Promise of Universal Preschool,” National Affairs, 2014; Timothy J. Bartik, “Grading the Pre-K Evidence,” Investing in Kids, 2014. 
  34. Lane Kenworthy, Social Democratic America, Oxford University Press, 2014. 
  35. Mary Eberstadt, “The Post-Welfare State Family,” The Weekly Standard, 2013. 
  36. Claudia Goldin and Lawrence F. Katz, The Race between Education and Technology, Harvard University Press, 2008, figure 6.1; Census Bureau; National Center for Health Statistics. 
  37. OECD, “SF1.3: Living Arrangements of Children,” OECD Family Database. 
  38. Reihan Salam, “The House Budget Committee on the Inequality Landscape,” National Review Online: The Agenda, 2011. 
  39. Controlling for education and other relevant factors, federal government employees have higher compensation (wages and benefits) than their private-sector counterparts but state and local government employees don’t. Jeffrey Keefe, “Debunking the Myth of the Overcompensated Public Employee: The Evidence,” Economic Policy Institute, 2010; Philipp Bewerunge and Harvey S. Rosen, “Wages, Pensions, and Public-Private Sector Compensation Differentials,” Working Paper 227, Griswold Center for Economic Policy Studies, 2012; Congressional Budget Office, “Comparing the Compensation of Federal and Private-Sector Employees,” 2012.