PublicationsTopic index of systematic reviewsKnowledge pagesCosts & benefits of ECCE
EPPI, systematic review, research synthesis, research methods, ncrm, esrc Cost-benefit analysis of early childhood care and education Minimize EPPI, systematic review, research synthesis, research methods, ncrm, esrc
This page contains the findings of systematic reviews undertaken by review groups linked to the EPPI Centre

One review [1] described long-term cost-benefit analyses of three early childhood interventions - the Abecedarian Program, Perry High/Scope and the Chicago Child-Parent Centers. All were undertaken in the United States and targeted mostly underprivileged black communities.  Costs and benefits were reported to be, respectively, 1:3.78, 1:7.16 and 1:7.14 (i.e. 3.78 dollars saved for each dollar spent and so on).

The review concluded that:

  • The samples in these three studies were overwhelmingly African-American families in U.S. inner cities, and were defined as living in poverty. Given this context, it is argued that results of the three studies are not easily transferable to modern contexts in countries such as England. The results indicated should therefore all be read with the caveat of ‘for the specific population in these studies’.
  • Centre-based early years interventions do have a positive effect on educational and cognitive outcomes.
  • Centre-based early years interventions probably reduce the risk of involvement in crime for those who are at a high risk of becoming involved in criminal activity, but the results suggested there are limits to this ‘protective effect’.
  • Economic analysis suggest that the money invested in the interventions yielded a positive rate of return: that is, the economic benefit is greater than the initial investment over the long tem. However, the magnitude of the return is very sensitive to the assumptions made in the cost estimates. The cost-benefit ratio of centre-based early years interventions may well be lower than that suggested by the headline figures used in the individual study reports.


1. What is known about the long-term economic impact of centre-based early childhood interventions?  (2006)

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