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Social mobility, life chances, and the early years

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  • Jane Waldfogel
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    Abstract

    It is widely agreed that the early years are a particularly important time for efforts to increase social mobility, because a good deal of inequality is already apparent by the time children start school, and because children’s development may be less amenable to change after they enter school. But it is less clear how much policies can reduce inequality in the early years, or what policies might be most effective, given the multiple influences on development in the early years and given the complex effects of policies. In this paper, I review what we know from research about what affects development in the early years and examine the current UK policy framework in light of that research. I then make recommendations for priorities for next steps to improve social mobility and other desired outcomes in the early years and thereafter. We know a good deal from research about what quality means, and about what types of experiences are best for children. The research points to some clear next steps in early years policy. These include: extending paid parental leave to 12 months; offering a more flexible package of supports to families with children under the age of 2 or 3; providing high-quality centre-based care to 2 year olds, starting with the most disadvantaged; and providing a more integrated system of high-quality care and education for 3 to 5 year olds.

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    File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/6302/
    File Function: Open access version.
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library in its series LSE Research Online Documents on Economics with number 6302.

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    Length: 32 pages
    Date of creation: Nov 2004
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:6302

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    Keywords: Social mobility; parental leave; child care; early years;

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    References

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    1. Pinka Chatterji & Sara Markowitz, 2005. "Does the Length of Maternity Leave Affect Maternal Health?," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 72(1), pages 16–41, July.
    2. James J. Heckman & Dimitriy V. Masterov, 2005. "Skill Policies for Scotland," CESifo Working Paper Series 1390, CESifo Group Munich.
    3. Patricia M. Anderson & Kristin F. Butcher & Phillip B. Levine, 2002. "Maternal employment and overweight children," Working Paper Series WP-02-10, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
    4. Donohue, John J, III & Siegelman, Peter, 1998. "Allocating Resources among Prisons and Social Programs in the Battle against Crime," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 27(1), pages 1-43, January.
    5. Christopher J. Ruhm, 2004. "Parental Employment and Child Cognitive Development," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(1).
    6. Katherine A. Magnuson & Christopher J. Ruhm & Jane Waldfogel, 2004. "Does Prekindergarten Improve School Preparation and Performance?," NBER Working Papers 10452, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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