Investing in Children

Work, Education, and Social Policy in Two Rich Countries

Investing in Children: Work, Education, and Social Policy in Two Rich Countries presents new research by leading scholars in Australia and the United States on economic factors that influence children's development and the respective social policies that the two nations have designed to boost human capital development.

The volume is organized around three major issues: parental employment, early childhood education and child care, and post-secondary education. All three issues are intimately linked with human capital development. Since both Australia and the United States have created extensive policies to address these three issues, there is potential for each to learn from the other's experiences and policies. This volume helps fulfill that potential.

The authors demonstrate that in both nations, the effects of low family income and income inequality emerge early in life and persist. However, policies that increase parental employment, augment family income, and promote quality preschool and postsecondary education can boost children's development and at least partially offset the negative developmental effects of family economic disadvantage.

Contributors represent top-flight research institutions from both nations. They include Rebekah Levine Coley, Caitlin McPherran, Patrick Wightman, Sheldon Danziger, Lyndall Strazdins, Megan Shipley, Liana Leach, Peter Butterworth, Frank Oberklaid, Sharon Goldfeld, Tim Moore, Matthew Gray, Jennifer Baxter, Mary E. Campbell, Robert Haveman, Barbara Wolfe, Anna Johnson, Rebecca Ryan, Kathleen Mullan Harris, and Hedwig Lee.

Praise for the book:

"Investing in Children provides us with a unique look at three policy domains related to children’s academic achievement and a sobering picture of the tradeoffs and difficulties countries face in trying to level the playing field for children from disadvantaged backgrounds."—Sara McLanahan, Princeton University

"These papers provide important new evidence on issues that lie at the heart of efforts to improve children’s well-being, opportunities, and prospects—required reading for scholars and a wealth of ideas for policymakers."—Peter Saunders, University of New South Wales

"A timely and invaluable assessment of critical social policies aimed at addressing
inequality. High-quality data, careful nuanced analyses, and a comparative framework will ensure the value of this book to social researchers and policymakers."—Janeen Baxter, University of Queensland

"Countries should be judged by the way they treat their children. And here is the story of two big, open, and unequal nations where disadvantaged children’s issues lie at the heart of their future social and economic development. The superbly done chapters bring out the contrast and similarities in policy and note where each nation could learn from the other. Even those who normally do not read comparative policy ought to buy this book for themselves, their students, and colleagues."—Timothy Smeeding, University of Wisconsin

"This volume breaks new ground by providing evidence on some of today’s most pressing policy questions from the United States and Australia—two countries that are similar on a host of dimensions but are all too rarely studied together. The results will push scholars and policymakers in both countries to think differently about the work-family challenges facing us today as we strive to help parents balance their roles as workers and carers."—Jane Waldfogel, Columbia University