Investing in Health: The Long-Term Impact of Head Start on Smoking

By Anderson, Kathryn H.; Foster, James E. et al. | Economic Inquiry, July 2010 | Go to article overview

Investing in Health: The Long-Term Impact of Head Start on Smoking


Anderson, Kathryn H., Foster, James E., Frisvold, David E., Economic Inquiry


I. INTRODUCTION

There is a strong evidence that early childhood socioeconomic conditions have long-term economic consequences, reinforcing and sustaining disparities over the lifecourse (1) This observation provides a compelling rationale for public investments targeted toward disadvantaged children to expand opportunities and break the cycle of poverty. Head Start is the principal federally funded program through which the United States invests directly in the human capital of disadvantaged preschool children. Since its inception in 1965 as part of President Lyndon Johnson's "War on Poverty," Head Start has provided services to more than 23 million preschool children; in 2005, there were more than 900,000 children enrolled in the program at a total cost of $6.8 billion (Office of Head Start 2006a). To achieve its overall goal of increasing the school readiness of participants, Head Start provides a comprehensive set of services including education, health, nutritional, and social services to participants and their families. Research has shown that Head Start has positive impacts on participants' human capital, both in childhood and in adulthood. (2)

In recent years, questions have arisen about the relative effectiveness of Head Start and whether it should be continued in its present form (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 2003). Much of the debate has centered on the magnitude and persistence of the cognitive achievements of Head Start participants. However, given the link between education and health, (3) and the comprehensive nature of Head Start (with substantial health components), one could reasonably expect it to have a favorable impact on participants' health as well as education. If significant health effects were found to persist into adulthood, this in itself could alter the evaluation of Head Start and have important implications for the associated policy debate.

Smoking is the leading preventable cause of mortality in the United States (Mokdad et al. 2004). It is linked to an extensive list of diseases (Chaloupka and Warner 2000) and imposes large economic costs on society (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2002). Tobacco use generally begins before individuals graduate high school and, as an addictive behavior, youth smoking is linked to adult smoking (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 1994). Adolescents from low socioeconomic status households with low academic achievement are more likely to use tobacco products (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 1994). Thus, comprehensive development programs targeted toward disadvantaged youths that are designed to improve child outcomes have the potential to influence smoking, improve health over the lifecourse, and reduce the social costs from smoking. Suggestive evidence that Head Start might influence the smoking behavior of participants comes from evaluations of other preschool programs that targeted low-income children. Participants in both the Carolina Abecedarian preschool program and the High/Scope Perry Preschool Program were much less likely to smoke as adults (Barnett and Masse 2007; Belfield et al. 2006).

In this article, we assess the impact of Head Start participation on adult smoking behavior using data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) and its supplements on early childhood education and health. We examine the cohort of adults (above age 21 in 1999) whose age is low enough to have potentially participated in a Head Start program. Following Currie and Thomas (1995) and Garces, Thomas, and Currie (2002), we employ a sibling-based model to control for unobservable family characteristics that may affect smoking or the decision to participate in Head Start.

Our results show that Head Start participation significantly influences smoking-related behavior. We estimate that if Head Start participants had not enrolled in the program, these individuals would be approximately 20 percentage points more likely to smoke cigarettes beyond age 25.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Investing in Health: The Long-Term Impact of Head Start on Smoking
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.