Options for Investing in Early Childhood Education in Ireland
Presentation to the Conference: A Global Gathering for Early Childhood Dublin, October 17th 2013
Children are central to the long-term success of any society and economy; of course they are a lot more than that. However, taking the narrow focus of economic policy and long-term investments, the research evidence points towards the merit of investing in high quality professionally provided education and care for children. Given this, this paper examines the economics of investing in early childhood education in Ireland. The Early Childhood Education model examined is one which provides comprehensive systems of maternity, paternity and parental leave; high quality state supported childcare and a comprehensive after-school system.
Building on the work of the National Economic and Social Council (2005), Mac Mahon et al (2012), Barnardos, The National Women’s Council, OPEN and Start Strong (2013) and Collins (2013) the paper identifies a cost for these proposals and four options for paying for additional investment in this area. These options are identified in the context of a review of the current allocation of state resources to various child income supports and the paper tracks the growth in this expenditure from €1,004m in 2000 to €3,016m in 2012. The paper concludes by highlighting a policy pathway to achieve these objectives.
Keywords: Ireland, Cost-Benefit Analysis, Investment, Public Policy