The concept of investment in children is both intuitive and appealing. The relevance of welfare and education of children is applicable to any political and social context and aligns well with the fundamental psychological and social values of humanity. The following paper provides an overview of areas consistent with the concept and indicates gaps in their practical applications by exploring the manifestations of its erosion.
Manifestations of the Concept
The concept of children investment can be traced back to the early theories of education. Most prominently, the child-centered approach to learning conceived from the aggregated notions of Comenius, Rousseau, Locke, Dewey, and Montessori, among others, is based on the ideas about the importance of exploration, the focus on real experiences and real-life tasks, and care for children starting as early as possible (Platz & Arellano, 2011).
These ideas can be detected in numerous modern approaches to what can be considered investment in children. In addition, numerous arguments can be invoked to support the importance of such investment. From the educational standpoint, the exposure to experiences grants superior results for children’s academic performance in the school setting. Even more importantly, it determines their success in future and, by extension, allows for improvement of future prospects of the community and the nation (Cooper, Moore, Powers, Cleveland, & Greenberg, 2014). Both outcomes resemble the concept of return on investment.
Even more prominently, a growing body of research provides evidence of direct economic improvement associated with investment in children. A study by Engle et al. (2011) evaluated the effects of early interventions on the later development of preschool children. Among other things, the researchers observed a significant increase in future wages among individuals exposed to preschool enrollment. The effect ranged from $6 to $17 per dollar invested and, according to the modest estimates, promised long-term economic benefits of $11 to $34 billion (Engle et al., 2011). Another aspect of child care that can be considered an investment and can be traced back to early theories is healthcare for unborn and newborn children (Platz & Arellano, 2011).
According to Grimm (2010), there is an indirect relationship between the reduction in child mortality and the long-term increase in the country’s GDP. In addition, the welfare of the population is also related to the availability of equal opportunities in child healthcare as well as the quality of education of children and their parents (Grimm, 2010). In other words, the impact of investment in children is observable in political, family, social, and economic contexts.
However, despite the academic consensus on the matter, there is evidence of deterioration of the investment concept. A report by Sorenson (2014) outlines the steady trend of decline in state spending and a consequent drop in the number of children receiving necessary care. According to Sorenson (2014), such situation inevitably leads to numerous adverse outcomes in the business setting and, by extension, undermines economic performance. A similar situation was identified in the report of the National Children’s Bureau (2017). The inquiry detected several shortcomings of the country-wide investment efforts. Most notably, an overwhelming majority of senior managers in child care stated their inability to provide the necessary care to children in need due to funding and resource shortages (National Children’s Bureau, 2017).
As can be seen from the information above, there is an apparent gap between the theoretical implications of benefits of investment into children and the compliance with the formulated statements. Thus, in order to ensure the economic, social, and cultural welfare of the state, it is crucial to review the policies related to the areas related to investment in future. Such alignment is expected to provide stability and sustainability of the social and economic progress and therefore should be considered a top priority.
Cooper, B. R., Moore, J. E., Powers, C. J., Cleveland, M., & Greenberg, M. T. (2014). Patterns of early reading and social skills associated with academic success in elementary school. Early Education and Development, 25(8), 1248-1264.
Engle, P. L., Fernald, L. C., Alderman, H., Behrman, J., O’Gara, C., Yousafzai, A.,… Iltus, S. (2011). Strategies for reducing inequalities and improving developmental outcomes for young children in low-income and middle-income countries. The Lancet, 378(9799), 1339-1353.
Grimm, M. (2010). Does inequality in health impede growth? ISS Working Paper Series/General Series, 501, 1-31.
National Children’s Bureau. (2017). No good options: Report of the inquiry into children’s social care in England. Web.
Platz, D., & Arellano, J. (2011). Time tested early childhood theories and practices. Education, 132(1), 54-63.
Sorenson, P. (2014). Failure to invest in high-quality child care hurts children and state’s economy. Web.