This project established a research group led by James Heckman at the Geary Institute at University College Dublin. The group will synthesize and analyze the major international experimental early childhood intervention programs along with major nonexperimental studies of family and environmental influence. A major new database on child development will be constructed that will enrich discussions of these issues in Europe. A practical guide to implementing related policy will be produced. The group will build an economics of human development that draws on, extends, and unites research on the science and psychology of child development with the economics of skill formation.
The goal of the project is to produce a framework that will allow analysts to place diverse childhood interventions on a common footing by examining their effects on latent factors that evolve over time and affect a variety of life outcomes. The latent factors will be linked to the preference and technology parameters of economics. We will compare the relative effectiveness of interventions at various stages of child life cycles and the benefits and costs of later remediation if early adversity is not adequately eliminated.
1) The results of the project will guide the design of current and prospective Irish experimental and longitudinal studies and policy formulation, and will train Irish scholars in frontier methods of research. Five tasks will be undertaken:
2) Intervention data from the major US and European programs will be standardized and systematically compared with each other and with major nonexperimental data sets on family influence on child development;
3) A major new database that consolidates and documents all of the major early intervention programs and all of the major data sets on family and environmental influences and child development will be created that will enrich the European discussion.
4) Small sample classical and Bayesian testing approaches will be applied to these data that exploit the longitudinal intervention data and recognize the multiplicity of hypotheses associated with the null of no treatment effect using vectors of outcome measures;
5) Dynamic models of cognitive and noncognitive skill formation will be used to interpret the evidence from intervention and nonexperimental longitudinal studies and to synthesize them within a dynamic model of skill formation. This work will integrate economics, psychology and the science of child development. A practical guide for choosing among and implementing early childhood interventions will be written
6) The analysis of this study will be used to shape and interpret current and future Irish early childhood interventions.