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Head Start and the Distribution of Long-Term Education and Labor Market Outcomes

University of Oslo, CESifo, Oslo Fiscal Studies (OFS), and Statistics NorwayUniversity of Oslo, IZA Institute of Labor Economics, CESifo, Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), and Statistics Norway

We investigate the effect of Head Start on education and wage income for individuals in their 30s in the NLSY79. We contribute to the existing literature by examining effects across outcome distributions, using an approach that relies on two weak stochastic dominance assumptions that can be checked using pre–Head Start cohorts. We find that Head Start has positive and statistically significant effects on years of education and wage income. We also uncover important heterogeneity in the program’s effectiveness; the effects are concentrated at the lower end of the distribution, and the effects are strongest for women, blacks, and Hispanics.