Head Start's Intergenerational Potential: Do Program Impacts Vary by Mother's Head Start Participation?
Elise Chor, University of Chicago
This paper asks whether the children of former Head Start participants ("Head Start moms") receive larger treatment effects from the program compared to the children of non-participants, and seeks to determine the mechanisms by which such a difference might emerge. Using experimental Head Start Impact Study data, I find that the children of Head Start moms receive a larger treatment effect on their cognitive skills, and that Head Start moms receive a larger treatment effect on their parenting skills when their children participate in Head Start. I validate these findings using observational NLSY data, in which having a Head Start mom appears to generate a buffering effect that counteracts the negative association between Head Start participation and cognitive outcomes, as well as the negative association between Head Start participation and home environments and parenting. The NLSY data furthermore suggest that this is a Head Start-specific phenomenon, rather than being generalizable to other types of preschool.