Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Pre-School Programs May Pay For Themselves In Reduced Treatment Later

Date:
May 12, 2008
Source:
RAND Corporation
Summary:
Public investment in early childhood programs may be able to lower public costs for social services by improving children's long-term welfare. Such work is helping to promote a reorientation of child and human services toward investment and prevention, moving away from the current system that seeks to "treat" problems. Research from the fields of neuroscience, developmental psychology and program evaluation has shown how early experiences help determine how a person's brain develops and that effective early intervention strategies can improve a wide range of outcomes from childhood through early adulthood.

A growing body of economic research suggests that public investment in early childhood programs may be able to lower public costs for social services by improving children's long-term welfare, according to a new RAND Corporation report.

Related Articles


Such research could promote a reorientation of child and human services toward investment and prevention, moving away from the current system that seeks to "treat" problems that develop later in life, according to the report.

But economic analysis of early childhood programs does not necessarily result in clear direction about what is the single best approach to any problem, according to researchers. Instead, economic research is more likely to highlight a spectrum of promising services and provide guidance about how to choose an optimal level of each program.

The RAND report is intended to provide policymakers with a primer about how economic analysis can help set agendas for early childhood policy and identify the economic benefits of targeting certain groups for help.

"Economic analysis increasingly plays a role in the debate on the merits of early childhood programs, but many people are unprepared to participate in the discussion," said Rebecca Kilburn, the report's lead author and an economist at RAND, a nonprofit research organization. "The report is intended to provide clarity and structure for making use of such research."

Interest in using economics to help analyze early childhood policies has grown as business CEOs, Federal Reserve Bank analysts, and Nobel Prize-winning economists have called for increased public spending on early childhood programs.

Two overarching concepts from economic research have become important in discussions of early childhood policy -- human capital theory and monetary "payoffs" from investments in early childhood programs.

Human capital theory is an economic model that provides a framework that brings together current thinking about early childhood policy, including the concept that later skills build on skills developed earlier in life. The theory accounts for such concepts as nature and nurture, and the idea that capabilities involve multiple dimensions.

Probably the most widely recognized intersection between economics and early childhood policy is in the analysis of the costs and benefits of early childhood programs such as home visiting and preschool. Such analysis typically compares the costs and benefits of early childhood programs to determine the "rate of return" the public will receive for money spent on such efforts.

A growing body of program evaluations shows that investments in early childhood programs can generate government savings by, for example, reducing the need to provide social services later in life or by improving individuals' earnings, which then generates more tax revenue.

Kilburn and co-author Lynn Karoly write that an increasing body of knowledge has demonstrated how poorly U.S. children fare compared to their counterparts in other developed countries. Research has shown that U.S. babies increasingly are born with low birth weights, elementary-age children are overweight and asthmatic at growing rates, and more than 700,000 children spend time in foster care each year.

In addition, research from the fields of neuroscience, developmental psychology and program evaluation has shown how early experiences help determine how a person's brain develops and that effective early intervention strategies can improve a wide range of outcomes from childhood through early adulthood.

While many studies have found that the cost of early childhood programs can produce long-term benefits that offset their costs, not every early childhood program does so, according to the RAND report.

In addition, researchers caution that evidence suggests that the returns from early childhood programs may decline under certain conditions. While monetary benefits can remain positive for universal programs, the rate of return may be higher when programs are targeted toward the groups likely to benefit from them the most, according to the report.

There also is recognition that the benefits from early childhood interventions may be tied to the quality of those interventions, but higher quality often costs more. Unless funding grows, researchers say, shifting toward higher quality may mean that fewer children can be served.

The study is entitled "The Economics of Early Childhood Policy: What the Dismal Science Has to Say About Investing in Children" and is available from the RAND website. Support for study was provided by Casey Family Programs.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by RAND Corporation. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

RAND Corporation. "Pre-School Programs May Pay For Themselves In Reduced Treatment Later." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 May 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080512113505.htm>.
RAND Corporation. (2008, May 12). Pre-School Programs May Pay For Themselves In Reduced Treatment Later. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080512113505.htm
RAND Corporation. "Pre-School Programs May Pay For Themselves In Reduced Treatment Later." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080512113505.htm (accessed December 18, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Kids Die While Under Protective Services

Kids Die While Under Protective Services

AP (Dec. 18, 2014) As part of a six-month investigation of child maltreatment deaths, the AP found that hundreds of deaths from horrific abuse and neglect could have been prevented. AP's Haven Daley reports. (Dec. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
UN: Up to One Million Facing Hunger in Ebola-Hit Countries

UN: Up to One Million Facing Hunger in Ebola-Hit Countries

AFP (Dec. 17, 2014) Border closures, quarantines and crop losses in West African nations battling the Ebola virus could lead to as many as one million people going hungry, UN food agencies said on Wednesday. Duration: 00:52 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Can fat disappear into thin air? New research finds that during weight loss, over 80 percent of a person's fat molecules escape through the lungs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Why Your Boss Should Let You Sleep In

Why Your Boss Should Let You Sleep In

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) According to research out of the University of Pennsylvania, waking up for work is the biggest factor that causes Americans to lose sleep. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins