Putting a child through nursery education helps set them up for success in later life, a study suggests.
Children who attend nursery school may perform better later in life
The Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) research found adults with pre-school education were more likely to be employed and earning higher salaries.
It also found attending nurseries or playgroups could have "long-lasting" effects on cognitive test scores throughout school years.
But opinions on the effects of nursery schooling on behaviour were divided.
Some teachers said pupils who had attended a nursery were better "socially adjusted" than others, but some parents reported that they believed it made their child's behaviour worse.
IFS researchers, Alissa Goodman and Barbara Sianesi, said: "Our findings suggest that starting education before the compulsory school starting age at five can have long-lasting, positive impacts on children's lives."
In their report the authors said children aged seven who had attended nursery school showed large improvements in cognitive tests, such as maths and reading, and these results remained significant, although diminished, until age 16.
"Attendance of pre-school - nursery or playgroup - was found to yield a positive but short-lived impact on test scores," the authors wrote.
It also found that adults with a nursery or playgroup background were more likely to have gained qualifications and be in work at the age of 33.
"For both pre-compulsory education and pre-school we found evidence of a marginally significant 3-4% wage gain at 33," the report said.
Meanwhile, ministers are planning a massive expansion of childcare facilities in England over the next decade.
The government aims to make free childcare more available to parents and provide more places in nurseries and children's centres.
But plans for a "national curriculum for babies" have been scorned by some parents' groups as "absolute madness".
Under the plans, all childminders and nurseries will be expected to encourage children to follow the curriculum framework "from birth".