SNS conducts the research project Investments in Equal Life Chances along with leading researchers. The project contributes with research-based material on how investment in early interventions for children and young people can contribute to greater economic efficiency.

The mental health among children and young people with poor school performance substantially increases. One in eight students in elementary school is not qualified to high school. Behind this average hides an even larger proportion of newly arrived children and children from families with a weak tradition of study. Furthermore, youth unemployment is high. Overall, an increasing group is in danger of long-term exclusion. That means human suffering . For society, that entails significant losses in terms of lost tax revenues and increased costs for health care, social insurance, adult education, and rehabilitation.

SNS conducts the research project Investments in Equal Life Chances along with leading researchers. The project contributes with research-based material on how investment in early interventions for children and young people can contribute to greater economic efficiency.

The project focuses on the following questions:

  • Do our welfare institutions need to be developed – for instance with respect to early intervention efforts for children and youth – to contribute to long-term equality in life chances and reduced pressure on public finances?
  • Is there a causal link between Swedish children’s social background and their health and performance in school?
  • In that case, what tools and instruments need to be developed at the local level so that investments in early intervention, such as preschool, school and health care, reduce measures later in life for these individuals? How should the long-term effects of these efforts be evaluated? Are there instruments to involve the private sector in social investments? What does international experience show?


Gender differences in educational outcomes

Boys have worse educational outcomes than girls. Using US data, the first part of the study shows that in higher-quality schools the gender gap in both skills and behavioral outcomes shrinks, with essentially no boy-girl disparity in outcomes at the very best schools. The first part of the study is written by David Autor, Ford Professor of Economics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, together with co-authors. A similar pattern exists in Swedish schools. This result is shown in the second part of the study, written by Anna Sjögren, Associate Professor, Institute for Labour Market and Education Policy Evaluation (IFAU), on data from the National Agency for Education.

Families in the 21st Century

The book takes a close look at the state of the family in the 21st century. Is the family eroding or can we identify a revival? How is gender equality developing and how does it affect the future of the family? Are families polarizing and, if so,what does this mean for children´s life chances? To answer these and other questions the report presents a theoretical framework and analyses the available data to draw conclusions. Researcher: Gøsta Esping-Andersen, Professor of Sociology, Pompeu Fabra University. 

Children in Foster Homes. Suggested measures that would make a difference to society’s most vulnerable

This book focuses on possible measures to improve the situation for children in foster homes. With the background of existing research, a number of measures are suggested that the authors believe would improve the situation of children placed in foster homes. The authors also discuss how these measures could be implemented in legislation and regulations. Researchers: Bo Vinnerljung, Professor of Social Work, Stockholm University, and Titti Mattsson, Professor of Public Law, Lund University.

Social investment funds in Sweden – Facts and Lessons

Social investments are designed to counter narrow-thinking and shortsightedness, according to the author. This report deals with the social investment funds that in recent years have become common in municipalities in Sweden. The report describes how these work today and also provides recommendations on how they can be developed. Researcher: Lars Hultkranz, Professor of Economics, Örebro University.

To Evaluate Social Investments

The report focuses on evaluation of social investment. The report describes suitable methods of evaluation, but also notes that they are used in a fairly small extension today. Researcher: Lars Hultkranz, Professor of Economics, Örebro University.

Better to be Rich and Healthy: Family Background and Children’s Health

There are large differences in health among children in Sweden and these differences are related to parents’ income and education. Children of parents who receive economic assistance from the municipality are particularly vulnerable. These children get sick to a considerably larger extent as compared to other children. The authors have analysed the relationship between background and health today as compared to the beginning of the 1990’s. Researchers: Eva Mörk, Professor of Economics, Uppsala University; Helena Svaleryd, Associate Professor of Economics, Uppsala University; and Anna Sjögren, Associate Professor of Econonmics, IFAU.

SNS Analys 21. The Alcohol Experiment: from the Womb to Adulthood

The study has examined the effects of a policy that came into effect during the period from November 1967 to June 1968, when the areas of Gothenburg, Bohus and Värmland legalized the purchase of beer in grocery stores. As a result of this legalization, the alcohol consumption increased in these counties. One conclusion is the need for increased knowledge of the measures which effectively compensates for disadvantages early in life, for example as a result of premature birth or other health problems in children’s early development. Researcher: Peter Nilsson, Ph.D., Stockholm University.

Facts about the project

Previous meetings

30/8 2017: Gender differences in educational outcomes
21/10/2016: How can health inequalities be reduced?
7/10/2016: Family, gender equality, and children’s life chances
30/9/2016: Meet Toby Eccles – a pioneer in social impact bonds?
2/5/2016: How support schools in disadvantaged areas?
4/4/2016: Children in foster homes
24/8/2015: What has happened to the unaccompanied refugee children?
25/3/2015: Social investments in Sweden
22/10/2014: Life chances can be determined in the womb
3/10/2014: Children’s Health: better to be rich and healthy


Stefan Sandström, Ph.D. and Research Director at SNS, +46 (0)8 507 025 64

Mia Horn af Rantzien, Ph.D. and CEO at SNS, +46 (0)8 507 025 48

Funding and reference group

The reference group consists of Municpality of Ale, Ersta Sköndal University College, Famna, Folksam, Försäkringskassan, Magelungen Utveckling AB, Norrköpings kommun, Municpality of Nynäshamn, Save the Children, Skandia, Ministry of Health and Social Affairs, Stadsmissionens skolstiftelse, Stockholm Country Council, Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions, Municpality of Tomelilla, Municpality of Örebro and UNICEF Sweden. Robert Erikson, professor in sociology at Stockholm University, is the representative from the SNS Scientific Council.

Time frame