Research based on human capital theory makes a compelling case in both economic and educational terms for the importance of early childhood programs. Using cost-benefit analysis, studies effectively measure a selected set of outcomes. Yet, as noted, human capital theory and cost-benefit analysis have significant shortcomings that fail to capture the complexity of the contributions early childhood programs make to children’s development.
The capabilities approach addresses the shortcomings of human capital theory and cost-benefit analysis, and provides a framework for conceptualizing and assessing early education program. The capabilities approach also offers new ways to consider children’s agency and assessment practices. Taken together these can provide a fuller vision of the contributions early education makes to children’s development.
Adair, J. K. (2014). Agency and expanding capabilities in early grade classrooms: What it could mean for young children. Harvard Educational Review, 84(2), 217-241.
Aizer, A., & Cunha, F. (2012). The production of child human capital: Endowments, investments and fertility. NBER Working Paper 18429. Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research.
Belfield, C. R., Nores, M., Barnett, S., & Schweinhart, L. (2006). The High/ Scope Perry Preschool Program cost-benefit analysis using data from the age-40 followup. Journal of Human Resources, 41(1), 162-190.
Becker, G. S. (1964). Human Capital. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Becker, G. S. (1993). Human Capital (3rd ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Biggeri, M. (2007). Children’s valued capabilities. In M. Walker & E. Unterhalter (Eds.), Amartya Sen’s capability approach and social justice in education (pp. 197-214). New York: Palgrave.
Biggeri, M., & Libanora, R. (2011). From valuing to evaluating: Tools and procedures to operationalize the capability approach. In M. Biggeri, J. Ballet, & F. Comim (Eds.), Children and the capability approach (pp. 79-106). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Biggeri, M., Libanora, R., Mariani, S., & Menchini, L. (2006). Children’s conceptualizing their capabilities: Results of the survey during the First Children’s World Congress on Child Labour. Journal of Human Development, 7(1), 59-83.
Biggeri, M., & Mehrotra, S. (2011). Child poverty as capability deprivation: How to choose domains of child well-being and poverty. In M. Biggeri, J. Ballet, & F. Comim (Eds.), Children and the capability approach (pp. 46-75). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Carneiro, P., & Heckman, J. (2002). Human capital policy. In J. Heckman & A. Krueger (Eds.), Inequality in America: What role for human capital policies (pp. 77-240). Cambridge: MIT Press.
Carr, M. (2001). Assessment in early childhood settings: Learning stories. London: Paul Chapman Publishing.
Carr, M., & Lee, W. (2012). Learning stories: Constructing learner identities in early education. London: Sage Publishing.
Carr, M., Smith, A. B., Duncan, J., Jones, C., Lee, W., & Marshall, K. (2009). Learning in the making: Disposition and design in early education. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.
Chiappero-Martinetti, E., & Sabadash, A. (forthcoming). Integrating human capital and human capabilities in understanding the value of education. In M. Tiwari & S. Ibrahim (Eds.), The capability approach: From theory to practice. Palgrave: London.
Cunha, F., & Heckman, J. (2009). Economics and psychology ofinequality and human development. IZA Discussion Paper No. 4001, Bonn, Germany.
European Commission/NESSE. (2009). Early childhood education and care: Key lessons from research for policy makers. Report submitted to the European Commission by the NESSE network of experts, Brussels, Belgium.
Halfon, N., Russ, F., Oberklaid, F., Bertrand, J., & Eisenstadt, N. (2009). An international comparison of early childhood initiatives: From services to systems. New York: The Commonwealth Fund.
Haq, M. ul (1999). Reflections on human development: Expanded edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Heckman, J. (2000a). Invest in the very young. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Heckman, J. (2000b). Policies to foster human capital. Research in Economics, 54, 3-56.
Heckman, J. (2007). The economics, technology, and neuroscience of human capability formation. PNAS, 104(33), 13250-13255.
Heckman, J. (2008). Schools, skills and synapses. Economic Inquiry, 46(3), 289-324.
Heckman, J., Grunewald, R., & Reynolds, A. J. (2006). The dollars and cents of investing early: Cost-benefit analysis in early care and education. Zero to Three, 26(6), 10-17.
Heckman, J., & Kautz, T. (2012). Hard evidence on soft skills. Working Paper 18121. Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research.
Heckman, J., Malofeeva, L., Pinto, R. R., & Savelyev, P. (2008). The effect of the Perry Preschool Program on cognitive and noncognitive skills: Beyond treatment effects. Unpublished manuscript, University of Chicago, Department of Economics, Chicago, IL.
Heckman, J., & Masterov, D. (2007). The productivity argument for investing in young children. Review of Agricultural Economics, 29(3), 446-493.
Joshi, D., & Smith, W. (2012). Inequality and the World Bank’s education strategy 2020. In C. Collins & A. Wiseman (Eds.), Education strategy in the developing world: Revising the World Bank’s education policy (pp. 173202). Bradford: Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
Kilburn, R. R., & Karoly, L. A. (2008). The economics ofearly childhood policy: What the dismal science has to say about investing in children. Santa Monica, CA: Rand Corporation.
Leu, H. R., & Schelle, R. (2009). Between education and care? Critical reflections on early childhood policies in Germany. Early Years: An International Journal of Research and Development, 29(1), 5-18.
Nussbaum, M. (2000). Women and human development: The capabilities approach. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Nussbaum, M. (2011). Creating capabilities. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press.
Oberhuemer, P. (2012). Balancing traditions and transitions: Early childhood policy initiatives and issues in Germany. In T. Papatheodorou (Ed.), Debates on early childhood policies and practices: Global snapshots of pedagogical thinking and encounters (pp. 17-26). London: Routledge.
Penn, H. (2010). Shaping the future: How human capital arguments about investing in early childhood are being (mis)used in poor countries. In
N. Yelland (Ed.), Contemporary perspectives on early childhood education (pp. 49-65). Maidenhead: Open University Press.
Pogge, T. (2010). A critique of the capability approach. In H. Brighouse & I. Robeyns (Eds.), Measuring justice: Primary goods and capabilities (pp. 17-60). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Rawls, J. (1971). A theory of justice. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Rawls, J. (2001). Justice as fairness: A restatement. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Robeyns, I. (2006). Three models of education: Rights, capabilities, and human capital. Theory and Research in Education, 4 (1), 69-84.
Robeyns, I. (2010). Gender and the metric of justice. In H. Brighouse & I. Robeyns (Eds.), Measuring justice: Primary goods and capabilities (pp. 215-235). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Saito, M. (2003). Amartya Sen’s capability approach to education: A critical exploration. Journal of Philosophy of Education, 37(1), 17-33.
Schweinhart, L., & Weikart, D. (1997). The High/Scope preschool curriculum comparison study through age 23. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 12, 117-143.
Sen, A. (1980). Equality ofwhat? In S. McMurrin (Eds.), The Tanner Lectures on human values (pp. 196-220). Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press and Cambridge University Press.
Sen, A. (1992). Inequality reexamined. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Sen, A. (1997). Human capital and human capability. World Development, 25, 1959-1961.
Sen, A. (1999). Development as freedom. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Sen, A. (2005). Human rights and capabilities. Journal of Human Development, 6(2), 151-166.
Terzi, L. (2010). What metric of justice for disabled people? Capability and disability. In H. Brighouse & I. Robeyns (Eds.), Measuring justice: Primary goods and capabilities (pp. 150-173). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Unterhalter, D. (2009). Education. In S. Denuelin & L. Shahani (Eds.), An introduction to human development and capability approach (pp. 207227). London: Earthscan.
Unterhalter, E., & Walker, M. (2007). Conclusion: Capabilities, social justice, and education. In M. Walker & E. Unterhalter (Eds.), Amartya Sen’s capability approach and social justice in education (pp. 239-254). New York: Palgrave.
US Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation. (2012). Third grade follow-up to the Head Start impact study. Final Report. OPRE Report 2012-45. Washington, DC: Author.
Vally, S., & Spreen, A. (2012). Human rights in the World Bank 2020 education strategy. In S. Kless, J. Samoff, & N. Stromquist (Eds.), The
World Bank and education: Critiques and alternatives (pp. 173-187). Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.
Verger, A., & Bonal, X. (2012). “All things being equal?” policy options, shortralls, and absences in the World Bank Education Strategy 2020. In S. Kless, J. Samoff, & N. Stromquist (Eds.), The World Bank and education: Critiques and alternatives (pp. 125-142). Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.
Walker, M. (2009). Selecting capabilities for gender equality in education. In M. Walker & E. Unterhalter (Eds.), Amartya Sen’s capability approach and social justice in education (pp. 177-196). New York: Palgrave.
Walker, M., & Unterhalter, E. (2007). The capability approach: Its potential for work in education. In M. Walker & E. Unterhalter (Eds.), Amartya Sen’s capability approach and social justice in education (pp. 1-18). New York: Palgrave.
Westinghouse Learning Corporation. (1969). The impact of Head Start: An evaluation of the effects of Head Start on children’s cognitive and affective development. Ohio University report to the Office of Economic Opportunity. Washington, DC: Clearinghouse for Federal Scientific and Technical Information (ED036321).
The World Bank. (2011). Learning for all. Investing in people’s knowledge and skills to promote development. Education Sector Strategy 2020. Washington, DC: World Bank.