Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Securing the Future

Securing the Future: Investing in Children From Birth to College

Sheldon Danziger
Jane Waldfogel
Copyright Date: 2000
Published by: Russell Sage Foundation
Pages: 348
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Securing the Future
    Book Description:

    More than ever, the economic health of a country depends upon the skills, knowledge, and capacities of its people. How does a person acquire these human assets and how can we promote their development?Securing the Futureassembles an interdisciplinary team of scholars to investigate the full range of factors-pediatric, psychological, social, and economic-that bear on a child's development into a well-adjusted, economically productive member of society. A central purpose of the volume is to identify sound interventions that will boost human assets, particularly among the disadvantaged. The book provides a comprehensive evaluation of current initiatives and offers a wealth of new suggestions for effective public and private investments in child development.

    While children from affluent, highly educated families have good quality child care and an expensive education provided for them, children from poor families make do with informal child care and a public school system that does not always meet their needs. How might we best redress this growing imbalance? The contributors to this volume recommend policies that treat academic attainment together with psychological development and social adjustment. Mentoring programs, for example, promote better school performance by first fostering a young person's motivation to learn. Investments made early in life, such as preschool education, are shown to have the greatest impact on later learning for the least cost.

    In their focus upon children, however, the authors do not neglect the important links between generations. Poverty and inequality harm the development of parents and children alike. Interventions that empower parents to fight for better services and better schools are also of great benefit to their children.

    Securing the Futureshows how investments in child development are both a means to an end and an end in themselves. They benefit the child directly and they also help that child contribute to the well-being of society. This book points us toward more effective strategies for promoting the economic success and the social cohesion of future generations.

    A Volume in the Ford Foundation Series on Asset Building

    eISBN: 978-1-61044-150-6
    Subjects: Sociology, Political Science

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Contributors
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Foreword
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    Melvin L. Oliver

    The publication of this book edited by Sheldon Danziger and Jane Waldfogel constitutes the launch of a new series funded by the Ford Foundation and published by the Russell Sage Foundation. The new series will provocatively explore the strengths and policy relevance of the asset-building approach to poverty alleviation; it will also point to the areas in which any shortcomings of the approach indicate a need for further work. In this preface I would like to offer a personal introduction to the concepts embodied in this approach and to describe how it is being incorporated into the grant-making of the...

  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-xvi)
    Sheldon Danziger and Jane Waldfogel
  6. Introduction Investing in Children: What Do We Know? What Should We Do?
    (pp. 1-16)
    Sheldon Danziger and Jane Waldfogel

    When the National Science Foundation (1996, 1) announced the “Human Capital Initiative: Investing in Human Resources,” it noted that

    the human capital of a nation is a primary determinant of its strength. A productive and educated workforce is a necessity for long-term economic growth. Worker productivity depends on the effective use and development of the human capital of all citizens, which means that schools, families, and neighborhoods must function effectively. Unfortunately, there is substantial evidence that the United States is not developing or using the skills of its citizens as fully as possible. Only if the United States invests wisely...


    • Chapter 1 Trends in and Consequences of Investments in Children
      (pp. 19-46)
      Lisa M. Lynch

      The importance of investments in children, in particular in their human capital formation, has received considerable attention recently in the United States from both scholars and public policy makers. Much of this attention has been driven by the growth in income inequality over the past twenty years. Many researchers have argued that this increase in inequality is due in large part to technological shocks that have shifted the relative demand for skilled workers. The United States is not alone in experiencing technology shocks, yet the growth of income inequality is more pronounced here than in most of the other advanced,...

    • Chapter 2 Rethinking Education and Training Policy: Understanding the Sources of Skill Formation in a Modern Economy
      (pp. 47-84)
      James J. Heckman and Lance Lochner

      In response to the new labor market in which the real wages paid to high-skilled and highly educated workers have increased while the real wages paid to low-skilled and uneducated workers have decreased, there is renewed interest in policies designed to foster the formation of socially productive skills in the American economy. Politicians and social commentators routinely express concern about the political and social consequences of growing economic inequality. A consensus is emerging that increasing the skills of the unskilled will bring them into the modern economy and help to alleviate the problems of inequality.

      Arguments for increasing college tuition...


    • Chapter 3 Pathways to Early Child Health and Development
      (pp. 87-121)
      Barry Zuckerman and Robert Kahn

      Early child health and neurodevelopment provide a critical foundation for human asset development. The aim of this chapter is to describe the social and biologic pathways that both promote and undermine this foundation and offer the potential for new or refocused interventions. We examine selected childhood conditions that are prevalent and can convey long-term disadvantage. We focus on conditions that are subject to marked social disparities: the social patterning of disease often suggests the potential for interventions that would reduce health risks or increase health care access. In identifying upstream social determinants of early child outcomes, we focus on income...

    • Chapter 4 Early Childhood Experiences and Developmental Competence
      (pp. 122-150)
      Sharon Landesman Ramey and Craig T. Ramey

      This chapter is guided by two themes, each strongly supported by carefully conducted studies on children. The first is simply that experience matters—a lot.The second is that a child’s developmental competence can be increased by providingthe right experiences at the right time.Collectively, the scientific evidence is impressive that children’s well-being depends on the opportunities they have.

      At one level, these themes appear self-evident. Why, then, devote a chapter to presenting supportive research findings and considering their social policy implications? The answer is that there is strong controversy about whether systematic interventions can truly improve children’s outcomes....


    • Chapter 5 Schooling’s Influences on Motivation and Achievement
      (pp. 153-181)
      Jacquelynne S. Eccles and Allan Wigfield

      In this chapter, we review two bodies of research relevant to investing in children. First, we review what we know about the development of motivation, focusing on the middle childhood and early adolescent years. As motivational psychologists, we believe that children’s performance in and out of school is greatly influenced by their motivation to learn and their willingness to engage in productive learning activities. If we are to design effective programs to help children acquire the soft skills and the knowledge needed for a successful transition to adulthood, we need to understand the motivational bases underlying their willingness to participate...

    • Chapter 6 Promoting Positive Outcomes for Youth: Resourceful Families and Communities
      (pp. 182-204)
      Margaret Beale Spencer and Dena Phillips Swanson

      This chapter focuses on the ways in which families manage to raise successful adolescents in resource-poor environments. It provides a framework for identifying buffers to offset the negative effects of growing up in poor families and neighborhoods. Too frequently, intervention programs are designed with central assumptions about the homogeneity of the experience of participants (that is, the common context-linked experiences and similarities of their lives), about program quality (as a source of human capital enrichment), and about the levels of resource allocation required for human capital enhancement. As posited by Carol Weiss’s (1995, 1997) perspective on the role of theories...

    • Chapter 7 The Neighborhood Context of Investing in Children: Facilitating Mechanisms and Undermining Risks
      (pp. 205-228)
      Robert J. Sampson

      In this chapter, I examine four issues regarding the neighborhood context of investing in children. I begin by reviewing some of the defining themes of community and neighborhood, placing present concerns within a larger intellectual history. Second, I highlight the dimensions along which local communities in the United States are stratified ecologically, showing that they vary greatly in terms of racial isolation and the concentration of socioeconomic resources, and that social problems such as predatory crime, public disorder, poor health, and other detriments to children’s well-being tend to come bundled in geographical space.

      I then examine what neighborhoods supply for...


    • Chapter 8 The Transition from School to Work: Is There a Crisis? What Can Be Done?
      (pp. 231-263)
      Debra Donahoe and Marta Tienda

      Because full-time employment usually permits financial independence as well as social and emotional independence, there is great societal interest in the transition to adulthood. The ability of young adults to establish independent households, to be financially independent, and to achieve social and emotional maturity depends on how well they prepare themselves to compete for and secure well-paying jobs and to participate in social, civic, and familial activities.

      The transition from school to work embraces youth sixteen to twenty-four years old, the age limits demarcating, respectively, the legal age to leave school and the age by which the majority of college-goers...

    • Chapter 9 New Directions in Job Training Strategies for the Disadvantaged
      (pp. 264-282)
      Hillard Pouncy

      In its 1988 reportThe Forgotten Half,the William T. Grant Foundation cited 1980 census data showing that half of American adults age twenty-five and older had no formal education beyond high school and were at increased risk of poverty. This report influenced social policy, including that of the Clinton administration. A decade later, when the American Youth Policy Forum (Halperin 1998) revisited the subject,¹ half of all adults still had no formal education beyond high school, but the situation among youth had changed dramatically—only one-third of youth between the ages of eighteen and twenty-four now formally end their...

    • Chapter 10 Who Is Getting a College Education? Family Background and the Growing Gaps in Enrollment
      (pp. 283-324)
      David T. Ellwood and Thomas J. Kane

      Although social scientists and policymakers have spent much of the last decade documenting and diagnosing the dramatic rise in the labor-market importance of education since 1980, they have devoted relatively little time to understanding its ramifications for other social phenomena, such as student financial aid policy and inter generational mobility. Have the rising returns to education led to increased college-going by students from all backgrounds? Has the growing inequality been mirrored by a growing inequality in college enrollment, depending on family background? This chapter examines these questions, reporting on differences in college-going by family income and parental education and asking...

  11. Index
    (pp. 325-330)