Universal Investments in Toddler Health. Learning from a Large Government Trial

99 Pages Posted: 1 Jul 2023

See all articles by Jennifer Baker

Jennifer Baker

Bispebjerg and Frederiksberg Hospitals

Lise Bjerregaard

Bispebjerg and Frederiksberg Hospitals

Christian M. Dahl

Department of Business and Economics

Torben Johansen

University of Southern Denmark

Emil Sørensen

University of Bristol

Miriam Wüst

University of Copenhagen; VIVE - The Danish Center for Social Science Research

Abstract

Exploiting a 1960s government trial in Copenhagen, we study the long-run and inter-generational effects of preventive care for toddlers. We combine administrative data with handwritten nurse records to document universal treatment take-up and positive health effects for treated children over the life course. Beneficial health impacts are largest for disadvantaged children and may even extend to their offspring. While initial trial cohorts experienced positive health and socioeconomic impacts, those are absent for the final cohorts. This heterogeneity across individuals' background and cohorts documents that universal toddler care can alleviate inequalities at low costs, and that the counterfactual policy environment matters.

Keywords: early-life investments, health, public policy, government trial, Denmark, digitization, automated transcription

JEL Classification: I1, J1

Suggested Citation

Baker, Jennifer and Bjerregaard, Lise and Dahl, Christian M. and Johansen, Torben and Sørensen, Emil and Wüst, Miriam, Universal Investments in Toddler Health. Learning from a Large Government Trial. IZA Discussion Paper No. 16270, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4497050 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4497050

Jennifer Baker (Contact Author)

Bispebjerg and Frederiksberg Hospitals

Bispebjerg Bakke 23
2400 København
Denmark

Lise Bjerregaard

Bispebjerg and Frederiksberg Hospitals

Christian M. Dahl

Department of Business and Economics ( email )

Campusvej 55
DK-5230 Odense M
Denmark
29125486 (Phone)

Torben Johansen

University of Southern Denmark

Campusvej 55
DK-5230 Odense, 5000
Denmark

Emil Sørensen

University of Bristol

University of Bristol,
Senate House, Tyndall Avenue
Bristol, Avon BS8 ITH
United Kingdom

Miriam Wüst

University of Copenhagen ( email )

Nørregade 10
Copenhagen, København DK-1165
Denmark

VIVE - The Danish Center for Social Science Research ( email )

Herluf Trolles Gade 11
Copenhagen, 1052
Denmark

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