From study by economists James Heckman and Dimitriy Masterov argues that investing in the education of young children (pre-K) provides the greatest return on investment. In contrast, trying to educate the brains of adolescents, the economists say, is largely a waste of resources.
Perry participants have been followed through age 40, and the program has shown substantial benefits in educational achievement and other social outcomes. Participants achieved greater literacy and higher grades, and they were more likely to graduate high school. Later in life, they were more likely to be employed--and to earn more--and less likely to be on welfare. They also committed less crime and had lower rates of teen pregnancy.
The authors estimate the rate of return for programs like the Perry Project to be a substantial 16 percent.