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Starting Well Report

Commissioned by the Lien Foundation (a Singapore-based philanthropic organization), the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) devised the Starting Well Index to rank preschool provision across 45 countries, including the OECD and major emerging markets. The underlying aim of this study is to measure the availability, affordability, and quality of early childhood education programs in each of these countries.

During construction of the Index and research for this white paper, the EIU interviewed experts from across the world—early child care experts, academics, NGOs, preschool practitioners, and policy specialists. Findings from the research indicate a strong correlation between a country’s per capita income and its overall ranking in the Index, especially the affordability of its preschool education programs.  The report also shows how lack of policy attention could hinder progress in child development efforts, in both high- and low-income contexts.

The findings could potentially inform policymakers about the need to invest more on early childhood development, which could result in annual returns of 8% to 17%, largely benefiting the wider society. This could be attained through reduced education costs, increased labor productivity, lower welfare payments, and a reduction in crime.

A more comprehensive summary of the report and the Starting Well Index can be found at http://www.lienfoundation.org/pdf/publications/sw_report.pdf.  Encouragingly, this Index highlights the increasing global recognition of the key role played by early childhood education in the overall development of an individual and, consequently, an entire nation.