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Human capital, early childhood development and economic growth: An economist's perspective

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Keynote address at the Sparrow Lake Alliance Annual Meeting, May 2003
David Dodge, Governor of the Bank of Canada
Publication Date: 
30 Apr 2003

Excerpted from speech:

It is a great pleasure to be here with you today and to share the program with a number of former colleagues, associates, and friends. I must say, it is rather intimidating to be asked to kick off this seminar, knowing that everyone here knows more about the subject of child development than I do. I am sure I will learn much more from listening to the discussion today than you can learn from my talk. Indeed, I spent a fair bit of time wondering about just what I could contribute to your seminar. After much head scratching, I decided that the best I could do was to give you an economist's perspective on the links between investment in human capital, Early Childhood Development (ECD), and economic growth. I will also set out some of the implications of that perspective for the programs and policies that you are charged with developing and administering. I hope that, in all this, there will be something of interest to you.

I will divide my remarks into three parts. First, I will try to set out for you the analytic perspective-based on the economic literature on human capital development and its contribution to economic growth. I will then focus specifically on the contribution of ECD to the development of human capital. Finally, based on these perspectives, I'll try to set out some considerations for improved policies.