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Home Research areas Education, skills and human capital Early years

Early years

Many life outcomes – ranging from employment to health to crime – have their roots in the early years. Children are most sensitive to their environment in early childhood, when the foundations for healthy cognitive, social, emotional, and physical functioning are laid.  Our research in this area focuses on understanding how the investments made by parents, childcare settings, schools, and government in the early years influence child development, and on analysing the role that early years policy can play in improving child development and later-life outcomes. Both in the UK and in lower- and middle-income countries, we investigate how skills evolve over the lifecycle and the drivers of inequalities in outcomes in childhood and later life. We use a variety of methods to assess programmes to promote child development, both evaluating existing services and piloting new interventions.

Selected highlights

Journal article
The objective of this paper is to assess the effectiveness of an integrated early child development intervention, combining stimulation and micronutrient supplementation and delivered on a large scale in Colombia, for children’s development, growth, and hemoglobin levels.
Journal article
Since the 1970s, many countries have established free or highly subsidized education for all preschool children in the hope of improving children’s learning and socio-economic life chances and encouraging mothers to join the labor force. Evaluations reveal that these policies can increase ...
Journal article
This paper estimates the impact of a long-established pre-school nursery programme on children's nutritional status.
Calls have been made for more flexibility over when summer born children can start primary school in order to address differences in educational attainment. This follows IFS research showing that summer born children, on average, do significantly less well at school than other children. But our ...


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Sarah Cattan
Associate Director
Christine Farquharson
Senior Research Economist