The Borrowed Generation
September 16, 2013, 02:11 PM
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Lifelines for Poor ChildrenNobel economist James Heckman writes in the NYT:

What’s missing in the current debate over economic inequality s enough serious discussion about investing in effective early childhood development from birth to age 5. [, September 14, 2013]

Or from 8 months and 29 days before birth to birth.

Heckman does have sensible things to say:

The cognitive skills prized by the American educational establishment and measured by achievement tests are only part of what is required for success in life. Character skills are equally important determinants of wages, education, health and many other significant aspects of flourishing lives. Self-control, openness, the ability to engage with others, to plan and to persist — these are the attributes that get people in the door and on the job, and lead to productive lives. Cognitive and character skills work together as dynamic complements; they are inseparable. Skills beget skills. More motivated children learn more. Those who are more informed usually make wiser decisions.

Interestingly, he uses "character skills" rather than the more fashionable "emotional intelligence."

Arithmetic suggests that two things that would facilitate higher parental investment per poor child are:

  • Two parents per child
  • Fewer children per poor parent