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Health and economic impact of reducing class sizes

A longitudinal randomised study conducted in the U.S. has found that a simple intervention i.e. reducing class sizes from 22-25 pupils to 13-17 pupils in kindergarten, has a positive long term effect on health and achievement. The study suggests that reducing class sizes is more effective in generating more quality adjusted life-year gains per dollar invested than the majority of medical interventions.

Students who participated in smaller classes gained an average of 1.7 quality adjusted life years and generated a net $ 168,431 in lifetime revenue.  Low income students seem to benefit more from the smaller classes.   Previous studies have shown that graduating from high school is roughly equivalent to taking 20 years of bad health off of a person?s life.  This means that when targeting low income groups the estimated savings from this simple intervention would increase to $196,000 per additional graduate.

This study has implications for both health care and economic investment, as it shows that ?investments in social determinates of health can be more cost-effective than investments in conventional Medicare? and that ?each dollar invested in education could also potentially produce other long term returns? This study shows that investing in education, and investing early, has positive effects on the individual and society at large. This study will be published in the November issue of the American Journal of Public health.  To read the press release click here

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