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Investing in Well-being: An Analytical Framework


  • Veronica Jacobsen
  • Nicholas Mays
  • Ron Crawford
  • Barbara Annesley
  • Paul Christoffel
  • Grant Johnston
  • Sid Durbin

    () (The Treasury)


The NZ Treasury is currently engaged in a project to identify cost-effective interventions to improve outcomes for children and young adults in order to maximise the value of government expenditures across the social sector. The central aim of this paper is to provide an empirically-robust framework to compare intervention across a range of social sectors. There are two key components to the framework. The first is a life-course view of child development that emphasises that experiences and influences in childhood can affect well-being throughout life. The second component involves viewing social expenditures as investments addressed at achieving particular outcomes, typically directed at enhancing well-being. The paper presents evidence from a review of the literature on how the process and experiences of childhood have a later impact on wellbeing; how child development and outcomes are influenced by individual, family and communal factors and how risk and resilience can be used to indicate that an individual is at increased or decreased risk of negative outcomes. Case studies of youth suicide, teenage pregnancy, educational underachievement and youth inactivity provide evidence about what interventions work using key empirical findings from the literature.

Suggested Citation

  • Veronica Jacobsen & Nicholas Mays & Ron Crawford & Barbara Annesley & Paul Christoffel & Grant Johnston & Sid Durbin, 2002. "Investing in Well-being: An Analytical Framework," Treasury Working Paper Series 02/23, New Zealand Treasury.
  • Handle: RePEc:nzt:nztwps:02/23

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. V. Joseph Hotz & Susan Williams McElroy & Seth G. Sanders, 2005. "Teenage Childbearing and Its Life Cycle Consequences: Exploiting a Natural Experiment," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 40(3).
    2. Wolfe, Barbara & Wilson, Kathryn & Haveman, Robert, 2001. "The role of economic incentives in teenage nonmarital childbearing choices," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(3), pages 473-511, September.
    3. Robert Haveman & Barbara Wolfe, 1993. "Children's Prospects and Children's Policy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 7(4), pages 153-174, Fall.
    4. Paul Ryan, 2001. "The School-to-Work Transition: A Cross-National Perspective," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 39(1), pages 34-92, March.
    5. John Gibson, 2000. "Sheepskin effects and the returns to education in New Zealand: Do they differ by ethnic groups?," New Zealand Economic Papers, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 34(2), pages 201-220.
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    Cited by:

    1. Liebenberg, Linda & Sanders, Jackie & Munford, Robyn, 2016. "A positive youth development measure of service use satisfaction for youth: The 13-item youth services satisfaction (YSS-13)," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 71(C), pages 84-92.
    2. Caroline Saunders & Paul Dalziel, 2010. "Local planning for sustainable development: A small rural district case study from New Zealand," Journal of Enterprising Communities: People and Places in the Global Economy, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 4(3), pages 252-267, August.

    More about this item


    Well-being; social investment; life-course; child development; child and adult outcomes; portfolio; intervention;

    JEL classification:

    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • H50 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - General

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