A substantial number of American children experience poverty: about seventeen percent of those under the age of eighteen meet the government's definition, and the proportion is even greater within minority groups. Childhood poverty can have lifelong effects, resulting in poor educational, labor market, and physical and mental health outcomes for adults. These problems have long been recognized, and there are numerous programs designed to alleviate or even eliminate poverty; as these programs compete for scarce resources, it is important to develop a clear view of their impact as tools for poverty alleviation. "Targeting Investments in Children" tackles the problem of evaluating these programs by examining them using a common metric: their impact on earnings in adulthood. The volume's contributors explore a variety of issues, such as choosing which stage of children's development to target, and study a range of programs, including child care, after-school care, and drug prevention. The results will be invaluable to educational leaders and researchers as well as policy makers.
Phillip B. Levine is the Class of 1919 Professor in and chair of the Department of Economics at Wellesley College and a research associate of the NBER. David J. Zimmerman is professor of economics and the Orrin Sage Professor of Political Economy at Williams College and a research associate of the NBER.