While we all know that education is beneficial to all people throughout their lives, it seems that early education especially for children deemed low income can have long lasting effects as those children grow in to adulthood.
The Abecedarian Project followed 78 people from the 1970s and is, as Science Daily notes, one of the "longest running randomized controlled studies of the effects of early childhood education in low-income and high-risk families."
In the study the participants played games that often required them to divide sums of money between themselves and other participants. The study found that those who had received what the study called "intensive educational training" when they were young were in favor of equal division of assets presented to them. The study showed that even when presented with the loss of assets, which were sometimes financial, those who got a jump on their education were more likely to choose a fair and equal division.
"When someone rejects an offer, they are sending a very strong signal to the other player about the decision regarding how the money should be divided," Université de Montréal assistant psychology professor Sébastien Hétu who is a first-author of the study stated.
"People who received educational training through the Abecedarian Project were inclined to accept generally equal offers, but would reject disadvantageous and advantageous offers. In effect, they punished transgressions that they judged to be outside of the social norm of equality."
We know that being exposed to education early isn't just beneficial to children with in terms of their learning--like numbers, letters and shapes--but it also helps children learn social norms such as how to socialize and navigate friend groups, and how to share and be fair in their interactions with their peers. This study definitely shows that early education has a definite positive impact on social behaviors that last well in to adulthood.
The study also found that those participants who did receive intensive early childhood education were more eager to plan for the future than those who didn't. "The participants who received early educational interventions were very sensitive to inequality, whether it was to their advantage or their disadvantage," Yi Luo, first author of the study said. "Our results also suggest that they placed more value on the long-term benefits of promoting social norms as opposed to short-term benefits for personal gain."
Early childhood education seems to be beneficial not only to the child in the short term, but also to the adult they grow to be in the long term.
"Our research shows that investment in early childhood education, especially in the education of highly vulnerable children from low-income families, can produce long-term effects in decision-making even decades after the educational experience."