Lane Kenworthy has a great op-ed in the Christian Science Monitor on the need for more government spending on kids.
In this op-ed, he argues that
“The single most valuable step lawmakers could take [to increase opportunity for children from low-income families] would be to implement universal childcare and preschool.”
Kenworthy makes a concise case that this is needed because of social trends: increased social problems in low-income families, coupled with upper-income parents investing more in preschool education, and all of this taking place in a labor market that values skills more. We can’t easily solve all the problems of low-income families, but we know that high-quality childcare and preschool will help.
Kenworthy points to the experience of Denmark and Sweden, which provide paid family leave after the birth of a child, followed by subsidized child care and preschool, with fees for families capped at 10% of family income. He argues that in these countries, the evidence suggests that adult success is less dependent on the fortunes of birth.
Finally, Kenworthy argues, similar to arguments I have made in the past, that investing in early childhood programs will help make economic opportunity more equal even if this is financed by broad-based taxes that include all income groups.
Kenworthy’s entire op-ed is well worth reading, as are his various books.