The Dunedin Study followed the lives and progress of 1000 children from birth to midlife, and analysed government and medical records, and found that there is a small percentage of people who account for the majority of societal economic burden. Researchers also found that this group of people could be predicted based on their early-years development.
80% of adult economic burden was attributed to 20% of the participants, due to criminal convictions, welfare benefits, medical prescriptions, and obesity. Low scores in studies of comprehension, language development, motor skills, social behaviour, and neurological assessments at age 3 were shown to be indicators of who would end up in this high cost group. This group also experienced are worse off home environment, had less self-control, and scored poorly on IQ tests.
This research demonstrates a strong connection between early-childhood development and welfare costs as adults. More importantly, it shows that this problem can be tackled through health and education programmes and early-years support for children and families.
“The groundbreaking Dunedin Study clearly justifies the economic case for early intervention to support the 20% of our population who currently benefit from 80% of the costs associated with health and social care and the criminal justice system.
With austerity measures and cuts to upstream interventions, we must ensure that the right kind of targeted support is resourced sufficiently to prevent this financial consequence from spiralling any further out of control.”
– John Bishop, Evolve Managing Director
To read the full report, click here.