Early Childhood Development, Human Capital Formation, and Poverty

Children’s experiences during early childhood are critical for their cognitive and socio-emotional development, two key dimensions of human capital. However, children from low-income backgrounds often grow up lacking stimulation and basic investments, leading to developmental deficits that are difficult, if not impossible, to reverse later in life without intervention. The existence of these deficits are a key driver of inequality and contribute to the intergenerational transmission of poverty.”

This paper by Attanasio, Cattan, and Meghir for the NBER (2021), discusses models of parental investments and early childhood development and uses them as an organizing tool to review some of the empirical evidence on early childhood research. Among other things, results demonstrate that addressing development deficits doesn’t always have to be a costly policy affair. Incorporating conversations, playtimes, and reading into the pedagogy does wonders for cognitive development. Policies that are designed to target development delays must ensure scalability even in terms of cultural acceptability of interventions, rather than just cost minimization. 

Click here to read the full paper.

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Labels: Inclusive Growth


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