The Returns of an Additional Year of Schooling: The Case of State-Mandated Kindergarten

Jade Jenkins, UC Irvine, and Maria Rueda-Rosales, UC Irvine 

While in most states kindergarten began as a voluntary program, between 1970-2015 some states mandated kindergarten attendance. This effectively shifted the minimum school entry age from age 7 (1st grade) to 6. Several changes in state school entrance laws across—and in some instances, within—states over time provide an opportunity to causally identify the influence of an additional year of ECE on individual education and labor market outcomes. This project views the impacts of mandatory kindergarten attendance on long-run outcomes as a first look at how an additional year of education during preschool will influence long-run outcomes in a policy context where federal and state governments are actively considering universal preschool programs.

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