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Investing in early human development: Timing and economic efficiency

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  • Doyle, Orla
  • Harmon, Colm P.
  • Heckman, James J.
  • Tremblay, Richard E.

Abstract

Policy discussions to ameliorate socioeconomic (SES) inequalities are increasingly focused on investments in early childhood. Yet such interventions are costly to implement, and clear evidence on the optimal time to intervene to yield a high economic and social return in the future is meagre. The majority of successful early childhood interventions start in the preschool years. However socioeconomic gradients in cognitive skills, socio-emotional functioning and health can be observed by age three, suggesting that preventative programmes starting earlier in childhood may be even more effective. We discuss the optimal timing of early childhood intervention with reference to recent research in developmental neuroscience. We motivate the need for early intervention by providing an overview of the impact of adverse risk factors during the antenatal and early childhood periods on outcomes later in life. We provide a brief review of the economic rationale for investing early in life and propose the "antenatal investment hypothesis". We conclude by discussing a suite of new European interventions that will inform this optimal timing debate.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Economics & Human Biology.

Volume (Year): 7 (2009)
Issue (Month): 1 (March)
Pages: 1-6

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Handle: RePEc:eee:ehbiol:v:7:y:2009:i:1:p:1-6

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622964

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Keywords: Early childhood intervention SES inequalities Brain development;

References

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  1. Cunha, Flavio & Heckman, James J. & Lochner, Lance, 2006. "Interpreting the Evidence on Life Cycle Skill Formation," Handbook of the Economics of Education, Elsevier.
  2. Garces, E. & Thomas, D. & Currie, J., 2000. "Longer Term Effects of Head Start," Papers 00-20, RAND - Labor and Population Program.
  3. Najman, Jake M. & Aird, Rosemary & Bor, William & O'Callaghan, Michael & Williams, Gail M. & Shuttlewood, Gregory J., 2004. "The generational transmission of socioeconomic inequalities in child cognitive development and emotional health," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 58(6), pages 1147-1158, March.
  4. James Heckman & Pedro Carneiro, 2003. "Human Capital Policy," NBER Working Papers 9495, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Robert Haveman & Barbara Wolfe, 1995. "The Determinants of Children's Attainments: A Review of Methods and Findings," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 33(4), pages 1829-1878, December.
  6. Leon Feinstein, 2003. "Inequality in the Early Cognitive Development of British Children in the 1970 Cohort," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 70(277), pages 73-97, February.
  7. Korenman, Sanders & Miller, Jane E. & Sjaastad, John E., 1995. "Long-term poverty and child development in the United States: Results from the NLSY," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 17(1-2), pages 127-155.
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  1. Some Ideas From Academia to Policy for 2010
    by Liam Delaney in Geary Behaviour Centre on 2009-12-30 12:39:00
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