"Looking Backward: How Childhood Experiences Impact a Nation's Wealth", Dan Trefler -- Rotman School -- Lifelong Learning, May 30, 2003, 8:30 a.m.

Dan Trefler, J. Douglas and Ruth Grant Chair in Competitiveness and Prosperity and Professor of Business Economics, , Rotman School of Management, U. of Toronto; and Research Fellow, Canadian Institute for Advanced Research

These participant's notes were created in real-time during the meeting, based on the speaker's presentation(s) and comments from the audience. These should not be viewed as official transcripts of the meeting, but only as an interpretation by a single individual. Lapses, grammatical errors, and typing mistakes may not have been corrected. Questions about content should be directed to the originator. These notes have been contributed by David Ing (daviding@systemicbusiness.org) at the IBM Advanced Business Institute ( http://www.ibm.com/abi).

Introduction by Roger Martin

[Dan Trefler]

Lifelong learning people are special

Need policies that complement each other -- a good fit, enhance each other.

Convince you of three things:

How the early children's agenda feeds into things we care about, e.g. the supply of researchers


Canada does well because of a large college system -- much larger than others.

U.S. study:  AFQ (IQ) test at age 12 -- students in top 1/3 of bright students

Could make this same analysis for whether graduating in high school, for whether in grade 10 you decided to take math courses, down to early childhood.  Same pattern

All of the above seems soft, not enough serious science.

Two things:

Brain plasticity:

Research by cataract surgery, on people with congenital cataracts, where surgery is ineffective

HPA access:  the stress system

Recently have discovered that the cortisol system can be trained

Natural experiment:  state collapse in Romania by Ceaucescu, influx into orphanage system as they're not funded

These people have inappropriate cortisol spikes -- alcoholism, depressions, aggressive

One last example in science, on aggression:

Can do a lot with children, it costs a lot later

Now returning to the economic view:  productivity

Want to think about policies that make Toronto a rich society to be in, and Canada

Would like more affluence, showing a caring side


Book:  Myth of the first five years.  A lot of people in the U.S. galvanizing in the U.S., but criticisms:  no hard science which you've covered.  But no instructions for parents.

Are there countries doing things like this?

[Looking for slide on Toronto District School Board]

Before the talent gets too expensive, where could we go?

Where could business play a role?

Any evidence of improved productivity, of policies that could be improved in the workplace, on stress balancing work / life, daycare possibility, programs for women

Trying to create larger pools of talent.  Referring to Roger Martin's talk, how much do we want to do this?  Will people go elsewhere where there's no talent?

Should there not be a similar call to work with our children?  Where do you see the progress in early childhood invention?  Are we better off, or is everyone double income, no time for children.

Example of rats swimming.  Does it mean non-handled rats can swim longer?

Can point to some directions.  Ontario's Promise, from Mike Harris' government, lists partners with agencies that have interventions.


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