Daily BulletinDaily Bulletin

The Conversation

  • Written by The Conversation
imageBenefits in later life.Childcare by Shutterstock

All children aged three or four are currently entitled to 15 hours free childcare a week, for 38 weeks. In the recent Queen’s Speech, this was announced to increase to 30 hours. The aim is to provide affordable childcare and increase provision for working families. And more working families could lead to higher productivity.

Much of the focus since the announcement was made has been on how this can be funded and how much extra it will cost the state, given that it is argued that the current system of 15 hours is unsustainable. In economics speak, the main issue is therefore opportunity cost – in a given budget, what else must we give up if more childcare places are provided?

But what hasn’t been discussed yet is how this will benefit children, in terms of health for example.

Several academics have analysed the relationship between parental income and child health and found that in general, income is relevant for health up to the age of eight. Although it still important thereafter, the impact is at a lower rate. This is potentially because early years are most important in setting up a healthy lifestyle that will be embedded into a child’s life going forward. Indeed, another study using UK data showed the impact is most prominent before age two.

imageNot just about how much a couple can work.Working by Shutterstock

The 2010 public health white paper, Healthy Lives, Healthy People, emphasised the importance of giving all children a healthy start in life.

Research to date has generally tested the relationship across four age groups, 0-3, 4-8, 9-12 and 13-17. My colleagues and I have been performing our own analysis on UK data and have found that income does indeed matter mostly up to age eight, and continues to be important up to the age 12, but decreases in relevance thereafter.

Why just three and four-year-olds?

There also seems to be a cohort effect from 2010 onwards; since then there has been an increasing effect of parent’s income on health for children aged 0-2. That is, more income is required to obtain the same level of health for those children born before 2010 (even with taking inflation into account). This raises another question, why is the focus of the new childcare hours on those aged three and four only?

Health income inequalities are evolving for children in England. The 0-2 age group is viewed as an important window of opportunity to make long term impacts on child nutritional status and health.

From October 2015, local authorities will take over responsibility for planning and paying for public health services for babies and children up to age five, with the aim of reducing health inequalities in each area. The impact of this, merged with doubling childcare hours, remains to be seen.

Further research will be needed to understand the mechanisms between income and health behaviour and outcomes, but my overall conclusion is there is still a need to integrate equal benefits for all when setting priorities.

There is a need to widen the focus of doubling childcare hours to the predicted impact on future health and productivity of these children, and not just on the current productivity of working parents.

Brenda Gannon receives funding from NIHR, Health Research Board Ireland and Australian Research Council.

Authors: The Conversation

Read more http://theconversation.com/childcare-plans-focus-on-three-to-fours-but-children-need-support-from-birth-42652

China is taking a risk by getting tough on Hong Kong. Now, the US must decide how to respond

arrow_forward

Performers and sole traders find it hard to get JobKeeper in part because they get behind on their paperwork

arrow_forward

Be still, my beating wings: hunters kill migrating birds on their 10,000km journey to Australia

arrow_forward

The Conversation
INTERWEBS DIGITAL AGENCY

Politics

$1.8 billion boost for local government

The Federal Liberal and Nationals Government will deliver a $1.8 billion boost for road and community projects through local governments across Australia.   The package of support will help lo...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Scott Morrison press conference

PRIME MINISTER: This is a tough day for Australia, a very tough day. Almost 600,000 jobs have been lost, every one of them devastating for those Australians, for their families, for their commun...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

BOOST FOR BUSHFIRE RECOVERY

Local economic recovery plans will help towns and regions hit by bushfires get back on their feet as part of a new $650 million package of support from the Morrison Government.   As part of th...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Business News

How have live chatbots turned beneficial for online businesses?

Every business these days have come up with their online models. While some people still rely on the customer service representatives to handle the queries for their company around the clock through...

Paresh Patil - avatar Paresh Patil

Which Internet Marketing techniques can boost my business?

Internet marketing can be easily defined as various internet techniques that can be used to promote a product or service to all those people who use the internet to visit various websites and social p...

Kamballa Johnson - avatar Kamballa Johnson

3 Top Tips to Hiring Long Distance Movers

Moving doesn’t need to be stressful at all. Find the right moving company to help with your relocation and the whole experience should be what you want out of the move in the first place – a new sta...

Ash Thomson - avatar Ash Thomson



News Company Media Core

Content & Technology Connecting Global Audiences

More Information - Less Opinion