Postprint version. Published in The Lancet, Volume 378, Issue 9799, October 8, 2011, pages 1339-1353.
The definitive version is available at https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(11)60889-1.
This report is the second in a Series on early child development in low-income and middle-income countries and assesses the effectiveness of early child development interventions, such as parenting support and preschool enrollment. The evidence reviewed suggests that early child development can be improved through these interventions, with effects greater for programmes of higher quality and for the most vulnerable children. Other promising interventions for the promotion of early child development include children’s educational media, interventions with children at high risk, and combining the promotion of early child development with conditional cash transfer programmes. Effective investments in early child development have the potential to reduce inequalities perpetuated by poverty, poor nutrition, and restricted learning opportunities. A simulation model of the potential long-term economic effects of increasing preschool enrollment to 25% or 50% in every low-income and middle-income country showed a benefit-to-cost ratio ranging from 6·4 to 17·6, depending on preschool enrollment rate and discount rate.