Reducing Inequality Through Dynamic Complementarity: Evidence from Head Start and Public School Spending
Johnson, Rucker C. and C. Kirabo Jackson (Forthcoming). “Reducing Inequality Through Dynamic Complementarity: Evidence from Head Start and Public School Spending”. American Economic Journal: Economic Policy.
We compare the adult outcomes of cohorts who were differentially exposed to policy-induced changes in Head Start and K12 spending, depending on place and year of birth. IV and sibling-difference estimates indicate that, for poor children, these policies both increased educational attainment and earnings, and reduced poverty and incarceration. The benefits of Head Start were larger when followed by access to better-funded schools, and increases in K12 spending were more efficacious when preceded by Head Start exposure. The findings suggest dynamic complementarities, implying that early educational investments that are sustained may break the cycle of poverty.