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Wellbeing: A Complete Reference Guide, Volume V, Economics of Wellbeing by Cary L. Cooper, David McDaid

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8

Investing in the Wellbeing of Young People

Making the Economic Case

David McDaid and A-La Park

London School of Economics and Political Science, U.K.

Candace Currie

University of St Andrews, U.K.

Cara Zanotti

University of South Australia, Australia

Introduction

The importance of childhood in molding us as adults has long been recognized. The sixteenth-century missionary St Francis Xavier is supposed to have said “give me the child until he is seven and I will give you the man.” Five hundred years later the film maker Michael Apted continues to work on a series for British television called 7 Up. This has followed a group of children from a diverse range of backgrounds every 7 years from the age of 7, so far until the age of 56; the assumption at the time of making the first series was that each child's socioeconomic status and personal circumstances would influence their life chances. Today, policy makers around the world are looking for evidence-informed actions to give children the best start in life. As we shall illustrate, economic arguments have lent further weight to the importance of early intervention in childhood, including contributions by the Nobel laureate economist James Heckman (Heckman, 2013) and Richard Layard writing in an earlier chapter in this volume.

This chapter will look in detail at the economic case for investing in measures to promote and protect the wellbeing of young people. We look at what is known about the long-term benefits of good wellbeing, ...

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