Changing children's lives: the economic impact of early years education

A benefit-cost analysis of the Early Years Education Program

With the first years of a child's life proven to have a life-long impact on intellectual and emotional development, a pair of University of Melbourne economists are analysing the economic benefit of an innovative early years education program in Melbourne's north.

The Early Years Education Program (EYEP), designed specifically for vulnerable and at-risk children, is being trialled by the Childrens' Protection Society, with Professors Jeff Borland and Yi-Ping Tseng joining a multidisciplinary team to analyse the impact of the program through a randomised evaluation trial.

The findings from this Australian Research Council-funded project, which is expected to be completed in 2020, have the potential to influence the design of childcare and education for 36,000 at-risk children in Australia, as well as informing approaches in regular childcare.

Read the Newsroom article


This project will make a demonstrable contribution to designing public policy for early years education and childcare for vulnerable children by measuring the impact of EYEP on the cognitive and behavioural outcomes for those children taking part in the program compared to those in a control group.

It will also determine the overall economic benefit of the program, thereby adding to knowledge on 'what works' in policy for this group of children.


Jordan B, Tseng YP, Coombs N, Kennedy A and Borland J, 'Improving lifetime trajectories for vulnerable young children and families living with significant stress and social disadvantage: the early years education program randomised controlled trial', BMC Public Health 2014, 14:965

Tseng Y, Jordan B, Borland J, Clancy T, Coombs N, Cotter K, Hill A and Kennedy A, 'Participants in the Trail of the Early Years Education Program’ , Changing the Trajectories of Australia’s most Vulnerable Children Report  No. 1

Collaborative Partners