Bruno: What Economists Think About Universal Pre-K
Last week's IGM survey of economists was - excitingly! - about education.
Specifically, respondents were asked whether expanded pre-K programs would have "a much lower social return" than the best existing programs currently generate.
I'd have guessed that economists would answer that question with a resounding and disheartening "yes", but the actual results were somewhat mixed with only 1/3 of economists answering in the affirmative. (This increased to a bit over half when survey results were weighted by confidence.)
The biggest takeaway seems to be that mainstream economists as a group know and/or care relatively little about education. (In this regard they are perhaps not that different from the general public.)
Consider, for example, that 29% of respondents reported being "uncertain." Another 18% didn't answer the question at all. Also notable: though the IGM survey sometimes asks a second, related question, in this case it didn't bother even though an obvious follow-up was available.
After all, what we want to know is not necessarily whether universal pre-K access would result in diminishing returns, but whether such an investment would generate positive returns.