Right in Principle and in Practice: A Review of the Social and Economic Returns to Investing in Children
At the most fundamental level, providing adequate investments that enable children to thrive is a moral imperative, and investing in a child is to invest in society’s future. Most would agree that there could be no more compelling argument than that. The international community has recognized that investing in children is not only essential, but an obligation as outlined under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Still, other arguments related to economic and social issues have also been made in search of an answer to the broad question: To what extent do investments in children’s survival and well-being also contribute to poverty reduction, income equality and economic growth? This paper provides a review of the literature on these relationships. It finds that investing in children can be extremely effective, and that the social and economic returns are potentially very large. Some of the evidence is based on investments that target the poorest and most vulnerable children and families. The paper also notes, however, that there are still considerable gaps in the literature, and that more needs to be done to effectively analyse the returns and the impact of investments within different contexts and environments.
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