Today, the MacArthur Foundation, inducted 23 people into the 2010 genius club.
The group included one economist — Emmanuel Saez, who focuses on income and tax policy. He recently published a paper that concluded kindergarten really matters.
Saez and his colleagues determined that having a better kindergarten teacher is correlated with college attendance, home ownership, income at age 27 and even retirement savings. All totaled, the present value of the higher future income meant that great kindergarten teachers are worth 6-figure salaries.
The mean salary for elementary and middle-school teachers is about $40,000 according to data from the Census Bureau.
For more on the work of Saez and his colleagues, see this NYT column from earlier this summer.