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Early Education Good for Economy, Fed Chairman Says

Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, highlighted the economic benefits of quality early childhood programs for an audience of children's advocates gathered for a national conference this week in Cincinnati.

In a prerecorded video message played this morning at the annual conference of the Children's Defense Fund, Bernanke talked mostly at a very high level about the importance of an educated workforce and the research that shows how influential a quality early education experience is in shaping success later in life.

Bernanke also spoke explicitly to the return on investment that early childhood programs yield. Here's what he said:

"Economically speaking, early childhood programs are a good investment with inflation-adjusted annual rates of return on the funds dedicated to these programs, estimated to reach 10 percent or higher. Very few alternative investments can promise that kind of return. Notably, a portion of these economic returns accrues to the children themselves and their families, but studies show that the rest of society enjoys the majority of the benefits, reflecting the many contributions that skills and productive workers make to the economy."

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