ERIC Number: ED467549
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 2002
Reference Count: N/A
Invest in the Very Young.
Heckman, James J.
Written by a 2000 winner of the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences, this paper explores the assumptions and foundations of current policies toward skill formation. The paper examines the conventional wisdom articulated by political leaders and draws on a body of recent scholarship that challenges many of the premises that govern popular policy discussions. This scholarship suggests that taking a broader view of the way skills are produced in a modern economy is more appropriate and, ultimately, more beneficial. The paper asserts that by focusing on cognitive skills as measured by achievement or IQ tests, policies exclude the critical importance of social skills, self-discipline, and a variety of non-cognitive skills that are known to determine success in life. Furthermore, the paper maintains, this preoccupation with cognition and academic "smarts" as measured by test scores to the exclusion of social adaptability and motivation causes a serious bias in the evaluation of many human capital interventions. The paper also discusses recent research demonstrating the vital importance of the early preschool years for skill formation and the success and cost effectiveness of early intervention. (EV)
Descriptors: Cost Effectiveness, Early Experience, Early Intervention, Economic Impact, Emotional Development, Human Capital, Public Policy, Skill Development, Social Development, Young Children
Ounce of Prevention Fund, 122 S. Michigan Avenue, Suite 2050, Chicago, IL 60603-6198. Tel: 312-922-3863; Fax: 312-922-3337. For full text: http://www.ounceofprevention.org.
Publication Type: Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Ounce of Prevention Fund.; Chicago Univ., IL. Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies.
Note: Adapted from a journal article "Fostering Human Capital," available at http://www.ounceofprevention.org or http://www.HarrisSchool.uchicago.edu and from an October 2001 lecture "It's Good Business To Invest in Young Children."