Government, Families and Skill Formation in Advanced Economies
School success and later life chances depend very much on conditions in early childhood. This is why family effects are far more powerful than school effects in explaining inter-generational mobility. The impact of social origins on child outcomes remains strong, and the new role of women poses additional challenges to our conventional nurturing approach to child development. This paper focuses on skill development in the early years, examining how we might best combine family inputs and public policy to invest optimally in our future human capital. I emphasize three issues: one, the uneven capacity of parents to invest in children; two, the impact of mothers’ employment on child outcomes; and, three, the potential benefits of early pre-school programmes. I conclude that mothers’ intra-family bargaining power is decisive for family investments.