Jade Jenkins will discuss her research on the effects of state mandatory kindergarten requirements on long-term educational attainment and labor market outcomes. While in most states kindergarten began as a voluntary program, starting in the 1970s some states evolved to mandating kindergarten attendance. Several changes in state mandatory 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 early childhood education on important individual education and labor market outcomes, enabling researchers to compare states with mandatory attendance to those with voluntary attendance.
Jenkins and Maria Rosales-Rueda of Rutgers University exploited this natural experimental design using data from the U.S. Census and the American Community Survey 2000-2015. They found overall impacts of mandatory kindergarten attendance on educational attainment in adulthood. They also found heterogeneous impacts by sex and race and ethnicity, with women and underrepresented minorities benefiting most in terms of educational attainment and income. Their results provide insight on the anticipated impact of universal prekindergarten programs, given the national trend toward preschool for all.
Jenkins is an assistant professor at University of California-Irvine’s School of Education, studying early childhood development policy. Her work is multidisciplinary, extending through education, economics, developmental psychology, political science, public health, neuroscience, and sociology. Her research focuses on issues that are amenable to policy intervention, using diverse methods to evaluate program effects and make causal inferences. Jenkins received her B.S. and M.S. degrees from the University of Florida in family, youth and community sciences, and her Ph.D. in public policy from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her master’s focus was in community development and poverty reduction.
Please join us for a reception after the talk.