Measuring Time Costs in Interventions Designed to Reduce Behavior Problems Among Children and Youth
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- Foster, E.M., Johnson-Shelton, D. & Taylor, T.K. Am J Community Psychol (2007) 40: 64. doi:10.1007/s10464-007-9125-0
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The economic evaluation of psychosocial interventions is a growing area of research. Though time costs are central to the economist’s understanding of social costs, these costs generally have been ignored by prevention scientists. This article highlights the need to measure such costs and then reviews the principles economists use in valuing time. It then considers the specific time costs that often arise in interventions designed to reduce behavior problems among children and youth. These include classroom time devoted to program activities, the time of parents or other caregivers, the time of teachers (outside of the classroom), and the time of volunteers. We consider the economic principles that govern how economists value these inputs and then apply these principles to data from an evaluation of a prominent intervention in the field, the Incredible Years Program. We find that the time costs are potentially rather large and consider the implications for public policy of ignoring them.