International Tax and Public Finance

, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 19-44

First online:

Childhood investments and skill formation

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The skills needed to ensure good life chances are rising (and changing) and, despite decades of education reforms, there has been little progress in terms of equalizing opportunities. The impact of social origins on child outcomes persists, and may even strengthen. This suggests that the pursuit of more equality and future productivity come together. A major challenge is to minimize the dispersion of skills. The foundations of policy lie in the realization that learning abilities are formed during the first years of childhood. The pursuit of an optimal human capital policy needs to consider three issues: (1) the uneven capacity of parents to invest in children; (2) the impact of mothers’ employment on child outcomes; and, (3) the potential benefits of early pre-school programmes.


Human capital Inter-generational mobility Parental investments Mothers’ employment Child outcomes


D1 D3 D6 H5 I2 I3 P5