A hallmark of preschool programs is their capacity to promote lasting effects on child well-being into adulthood. Long-term beneficial effects of early childhood programs have been documented for school performance and achievement, antisocial and criminal behavior, educational attainment, economic well-being, parenting behaviors, health status and behavior, and mental health (Campbell & Ramey, 1995; Karoly, 2001; Karoly, Cannon, & Kilburn, 2005; McLaughlin, Campbell, Pungello, & Skinner, 2007; Reynolds et al., 2007; Schweinhart, Barnes, & Weikart, 1993; Temple & Reynolds, 2007).
The most consistently observed and consequential long-term effects of preschool programs are for educational attainment. Measured by high school completion, years of education, or college attendance, higher educational attainment has been demonstrated in model (Campbell, Ramey, Pungello, Sparling, & Miller-Johnson, 2002; Consortium for Longitudinal Studies, 1983; Schweinhart et al., 1993, 2005) and large-scale programs (Currie & Thomas, 2000; Garces, Thomas, & Currie, 2002; Oden, Schweinhart, Weikart, Marcus, & Xie, 2000; Reynolds, Temple, Robertson, & Mann, 2001). Educational attainment is a key determinant of economic well-being and is a fundamental measure for estimating economic returns in cost-benefit analysis. Although long-term positive effects of preschool have been found for other adult outcomes such as employment and income (Schweinhart et al., 1993), crime prevention (Reynolds et al., 2001; Schweinhart et al., 1993), health status and behavior, and mental health (McLaughlin et al., 2007; Reynolds et al., 2007), they have been demonstrated less consistently.