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Investing in the early years is one of the smartest things a country can do to eliminate extreme poverty, boost shared prosperity, and create the human capital needed for economies to diversify and grow. Early childhood experiences have a profound impact on brain development – affecting learning, health, behavior, and, ultimately, productivity and income. 

Yet today, millions of young children are not reaching their full potential because inadequate nutrition, lack of early stimulation, learning, and nurturing care, and exposure to stress adversely affecting their development.

The challenge is substantial:  

Smart investments in the physical, cognitive, linguistic, and socio-emotional development of young children – from before birth until they transition to primary school – are critical to put them on the path to greater prosperity, and to help countries be more productive and compete more successfully in a rapidly changing global economy.

A large body of evidence confirms that if we invest in high-quality programs that support children’s health, nutrition, and early learning, we can improve learning outcomes, and ultimately increase adult wages and productivity. 

Last Updated: Mar 30, 2022

  • The World Bank


The World Bank

Global Lead for Early Childhood Development

Additional Resources


Kristyn Schrader-King
Communications Lead, Education