Department of Economics and Business Economics

Are impacts of early interventions in the Scandinavian welfare state consistent with a Heckman curve? A meta-analysis

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Are impacts of early interventions in the Scandinavian welfare state consistent with a Heckman curve? A meta-analysis. / Rosholm, Michael; Paul, Alexander; Bleses, Dorthe; Højen, Anders; S. Dale, Philip; Jensen, Peter; M. Justice, Laura; Svarer, Michael; Calmar Andersen, Simon.

In: Journal of Economic Surveys, Vol. 35, No. 1, 02.2021, p. 106-140.

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@article{dd0f79c53e7d458a84f632aee22ec908,
title = "Are impacts of early interventions in the Scandinavian welfare state consistent with a Heckman curve?: A meta-analysis",
abstract = "“Early intervention” has been a mantra in recent debates about human capital investment. Strong theoretical models motivate this focus by predicting that investment in children is most cost-effective when they are young. The “Heckman curve” summarizes this idea visually (Heckman, 2006). However, hardly any reviews scrutinize this hypothesis empirically in modern welfare states such as those in Scandinavia that already invest heavily during early childhood. Any such review is ideally based on interventions conducted as randomized controlled trials (RCTs), set in the same welfare state, and comparable across ages through cost-standardized effects. This meta-analysis assembles cost-standardized effect estimates from 10 RCTs, including a total of 18 intervention arms and 30,578 participants (aged 1.5–24 years), conducted by the same research center in the Scandinavian welfare state of Denmark. These interventions show significant effects relative to their costs, despite the large baseline investment level. Interventions targeted at younger children tend to produce larger effects, consistent with the Heckman curve. However, variation in the effect size within age groups is as large as it is across age groups. This indicates that both the quality and timing of investments matter and that “early interventions” are not necessarily superior to later interventions.",
keywords = "Early interventions, Education, Meta-analysis, Randomized controlled trial, Welfare state",
author = "Michael Rosholm and Alexander Paul and Dorthe Bleses and Anders H{\o}jen and {S. Dale}, Philip and Peter Jensen and {M. Justice}, Laura and Michael Svarer and {Calmar Andersen}, Simon",
note = "Publisher Copyright: {\textcopyright} 2020 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Copyright: Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.",
year = "2021",
month = feb,
doi = "10.1111/joes.12400",
language = "English",
volume = "35",
pages = "106--140",
journal = "Journal of Economic Surveys",
issn = "0950-0804",
publisher = "Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.",
number = "1",

}

RIS

TY - JOUR

T1 - Are impacts of early interventions in the Scandinavian welfare state consistent with a Heckman curve?

T2 - A meta-analysis

AU - Rosholm, Michael

AU - Paul, Alexander

AU - Bleses, Dorthe

AU - Højen, Anders

AU - S. Dale, Philip

AU - Jensen, Peter

AU - M. Justice, Laura

AU - Svarer, Michael

AU - Calmar Andersen, Simon

N1 - Publisher Copyright: © 2020 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Copyright: Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

PY - 2021/2

Y1 - 2021/2

N2 - “Early intervention” has been a mantra in recent debates about human capital investment. Strong theoretical models motivate this focus by predicting that investment in children is most cost-effective when they are young. The “Heckman curve” summarizes this idea visually (Heckman, 2006). However, hardly any reviews scrutinize this hypothesis empirically in modern welfare states such as those in Scandinavia that already invest heavily during early childhood. Any such review is ideally based on interventions conducted as randomized controlled trials (RCTs), set in the same welfare state, and comparable across ages through cost-standardized effects. This meta-analysis assembles cost-standardized effect estimates from 10 RCTs, including a total of 18 intervention arms and 30,578 participants (aged 1.5–24 years), conducted by the same research center in the Scandinavian welfare state of Denmark. These interventions show significant effects relative to their costs, despite the large baseline investment level. Interventions targeted at younger children tend to produce larger effects, consistent with the Heckman curve. However, variation in the effect size within age groups is as large as it is across age groups. This indicates that both the quality and timing of investments matter and that “early interventions” are not necessarily superior to later interventions.

AB - “Early intervention” has been a mantra in recent debates about human capital investment. Strong theoretical models motivate this focus by predicting that investment in children is most cost-effective when they are young. The “Heckman curve” summarizes this idea visually (Heckman, 2006). However, hardly any reviews scrutinize this hypothesis empirically in modern welfare states such as those in Scandinavia that already invest heavily during early childhood. Any such review is ideally based on interventions conducted as randomized controlled trials (RCTs), set in the same welfare state, and comparable across ages through cost-standardized effects. This meta-analysis assembles cost-standardized effect estimates from 10 RCTs, including a total of 18 intervention arms and 30,578 participants (aged 1.5–24 years), conducted by the same research center in the Scandinavian welfare state of Denmark. These interventions show significant effects relative to their costs, despite the large baseline investment level. Interventions targeted at younger children tend to produce larger effects, consistent with the Heckman curve. However, variation in the effect size within age groups is as large as it is across age groups. This indicates that both the quality and timing of investments matter and that “early interventions” are not necessarily superior to later interventions.

KW - Early interventions

KW - Education

KW - Meta-analysis

KW - Randomized controlled trial

KW - Welfare state

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=85098264490&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1111/joes.12400

DO - 10.1111/joes.12400

M3 - Journal article

AN - SCOPUS:85098264490

VL - 35

SP - 106

EP - 140

JO - Journal of Economic Surveys

JF - Journal of Economic Surveys

SN - 0950-0804

IS - 1

ER -