Many people think that economics has to do with money. But ultimately it is about prosperity, and the distribution of prosperity.
Natural experiment: measuring the effect of policy reform
"Dozens of pre-school education studies have been published, but none of these studies met the methodological conditions for a so-called" natural experiment, "says Van Huizen. "That was not possible either, because such a reform had not been implemented before. We can now take measurements with different cohorts before, during and after this reform. The change occurs in reality, and with a smart design we don't have to randomize it, like in medicine studies when you give one group the drug and another group the placebo. That is why we call it a "natural" experiment. "
"That is what economists can do well," says Van Huizen with a smile. "A lot of labor market policies are also evaluated in this way. We do not have much insight into what is going on in the children's heads. The pedagogues and psychologists involved in our research team have a great deal of expertise in this area. Our added value is primarily in the development of a strong research design. Together we are now a good, complementary team, and we can actually measure the effect of the policy reform.
Many people think that economics has to do with money. But ultimately it is about prosperity, and the distribution of prosperity. Education, training and work; it is interrelated and determines the life course of people. And if you start investing early (by narrowing achievement gaps), this will yield returns in the longer term. That is the economic assumption on which this policy is based. We will test whether this is actually the case in this study."
Interdisciplinary research team
The subsidy for this research was awarded following an application to the Netherlands Initiative for Education Research (NRO) in the context of the "Quasi-experimental research pre-school and early childhood education" subsidy round. The consortium of researchers consists of: dr. Thomas van Huizen (projectleider), prof. dr. Paul Leseman, dr. Ora Oudgenoeg-Paz, prof. dr. Janneke Plantenga and employees of research agency Sardes.
The research is in line with the longer-running pre-COOL and ISOTIS projects, comes from the Education for Learning Societies research focus area and is in line with the strategic research theme Institutions for Open Societies at Utrecht University.
For questions about this project you can contact dr. Thomas van Huizen: firstname.lastname@example.org.