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Human capital

The first years of life lay the basis for ongoing individual development and future outcomes. It is a period of rapid growth and development, shaped by the home environment, parental investments and other external factors. If these factors are not favourable to children’s development they may result in malnutrition, illnesses and inadequate stimulation, which can have detrimental effects on children’s health and development, affecting their later life outcomes and contributing to the intergenerational transmission of poverty and inequality.

Research in EDePo is interested in understanding the process of development of these disparities over time and by developmental area (cognition, language, socio-emotional development, etc.), the extent to which they are correlated with poverty and other maternal and household characteristics, and in identifying interventions that promote early childhood development in a cost-effective, sustained and integrated manner – from birth to age 5. To this end, since 2009, EDePo researchers have been extensively involved in the design, implementation and evaluation of cost-effective psycho-social stimulation (parenting) interventions aimed at very young children (toddlers) that can be implemented at large scale in low and middle income countries, such as Colombia and India. A related strand of research has focused on the evaluation of various forms of childcare provision for pre-school children in Latin America, and their impacts on children’s outcomes and parental investment decisions. A final strand of work investigates the impacts of early life nutritional investments.

The broader aim of this research agenda is to understand why interventions work (or not). This involves understanding the process whereby parents invest in the human capital of their children and what constrains these investment choices – for example, lack of monetary resources, time, and knowledge, amongst others.

Selected highlights

Journal article | British Medical Journal
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 | Economic Journal
This paper estimates the impact of a long-established pre-school nursery programme on children's nutritional status.
Journal article | Review of Economic Dynamics
In this paper we use high quality data from two developing countries, Ethiopia and Peru, to estimate the production functions of human capital from age 1 to age 15.


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Britta Augsburg
Associate Director
Sarah Cattan
Associate Director
Sonya Krutikova
Associate Director
Yani Tyskerud
Assistant Director