Human Capital Interventions Targeting Poor Children in Early Life

May 12 and 13 , 2010
Carrier Ballroom, Statler Hotel, Cornell University

Recent scientific advances in developmental sciences demonstrate the lifelong consequences of exposures and experiences in early life.  These advances suggest that reducing socioeconomic disadvantage in early life may be a powerful strategy for reducing the population-level burden of morbidity and premature death and increasing productivity.  In addition, social experiments conducted over that last several have generated new knowledge on the benefits of health, nutrition and education interventions aimed at increasing economic mobility among the poor by targeting human capital development of children in early life.  Long-term evaluations of randomized-controlled trials begun in pregnancy or early childhood have followed the children into adulthood in the US and several countries in the developing world.  Analyses demonstrate that some interventions have dramatic impacts on participants and result in reduced government expenditures on welfare assistance, criminal justice, and health care.Overview

This conference begins with two presentations that will give an overview of research findings in the nutritional sciences that are relevant to human capital development and review intervention programs from around the world that are aimed at promoting child development. The conference continues with presentations from investigators who have evaluated the effects of specific nutrition, health and education intervention programs implemented in early life.  Together these scientists will assess the state of knowledge concerning early life intervention programs and their impact on the development and upward mobility of participants.  This information is crucial for thinking about the optimal design of the next generation of programs aimed at developing human capital.  The conference perspective is global or transnational and considers whether the success of programs can be replicated in different contexts and on broader scales.

The conference includes outside, invited speakers who have are interested in early life intervention programs, in the US and other countries.  They will be joined by Cornell faculty with interests in child development, psychology, sociology, economics, political science, epidemiology and nutrition who are interested in the design and evaluation of intervention programs as well as with the economic development of communities and countries.  Cornell faculty and faculty from nearby universities will serve as reactors and discussants for presented papers. The goal is to create research collaborations among conference participants and identify research opportunities.

May 12 Agenda
May 13 Agenda


This event will feature presentations related to neuroscience, nutritional science, and research on the impacts of early life intervention programs. Currently confirmed speakers include:

Zulfiqar A. Bhutta, Pediatrics and Child Health, Aga Kahn University Medical Center (Karachi, Pakistan): Nutrition in Early Life: What is Optimal?
Maureen Black, Pediatrics, University of Maryland School of Medicine (Baltimore, MD): Interventions in Early Life to Promote Child Development
John Eckenrode, Human Development, Cornell University (Ithaca, NY): Long-Term Effects of the Nurse Family Partnership on Children
Jean-Pierre Habicht, Nutritiional Sciences, (Cornell): Inferences from Some Evaluations of the Mexican Progresa (now Oportunidades) Conditional Cash Transfer Program: Substantive and Methodological Lessons
Reynaldo Martorell, Hubert Department of Global Health, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University (Atlanta, GA): Long-Term Effects of an Early Life Intervention in Guatemala
Gretel Pelto, Nutritional Sciences, (Cornell): Inferences from Some Evaluations of the Mexican Progresa (now Oportunidades) Conditional Cash Transfer Program: Substantive and Methodological Lessons
James A. Riccio, MDRC (New York, NY): Opportunity NYC Family Rewards
David Sahn, ISS Poverty Team member and Prof. of Economics, (Cornell): Conditional Cash Transfers: Objectives, Mechanisms, and Impacts


Christine Olson, Persistent Poverty Team Member and Prof. of Nutritional Sciences
Dan Lichter, Persistent Poverty Team Member and Prof. of Policy Analysis & Management and Sociology
Matt Freedman, Persistent Poverty Team Member and Prof. of Labor Economics
Jordan Matsudaira, Persistent Poverty Team Member and Prof. of Policy Analysis and Management

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