More than ever, the economic health of a country depends upon the skills, knowledge, and capacities of its people. How does a person acquire these human assets and how can we promote their development? Securing the Future assembles an interdisciplinary team of scholars to investigate the full range of factors—pediatric, psychological, social, and economic—that bear on a child's development into a well-adjusted, economically productive member of society. A central purpose of the volume is to identify sound interventions that will boost human assets, particularly among the disadvantaged. The book provides a comprehensive evaluation of current initiatives and offers a wealth of new suggestions for effective public and private investments in child development.
While children from affluent, highly educated families have good quality child care and an expensive education provided for them, children from poor families make do with informal child care and a public school system that does not always meet their needs. How might we best redress this growing imbalance? The contributors to this volume recommend policies that treat academic attainment together with psychological development and social adjustment. Mentoring programs, for example, promote better school performance by first fostering a young person's motivation to learn. Investments made early in life, such as preschool education, are shown to have the greatest impact on later learning for the least cost.
In their focus upon children, however, the authors do not neglect the important links between generations. Poverty and inequality harm the development of parents and children alike. Interventions that empower parents to fight for better services and better schools are also of great benefit to their children.
Securing the Future shows how investments in child development are both a means to an end and an end in themselves. They benefit the child directly and they also help that child contribute to the well-being of society. This book points us toward more effective strategies for promoting the economic success and the social cohesion of future generations.
SHELDON DANZIGER is Distinguished University Professor of Public Policy and co-director of the National Poverty Center at the University of Michigan.
JANE WALDFOGEL is professor of social work and public affairs at the Columbia University School of Social Work and research associate at the Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion at the London School of Economics.
CONTRIBUTORS: Debra Donahoe, Jacquelynne S. Eccles, James J. Jeckman, Robert S. Kahn, Thomas J. Kane, Lance Lochner, Lisa M. Lynch, Melvin L. Oliver, Hillard Pouncy, Craig T. Ramey, Sharon Landesman Ramey, Robert J. Sampson, Margaret Beale Spencer, Dena Phillips Swanson, Marta Tienda, Allan Wigfield, Barry Zuckerman, M.D.
A Volume in the Ford Foundation Series on Asset Building