The Chicago Initiative for Economic Development and Early Childhood (CEDEC) at The Harris School of The University of Chicago is a network of researchers, policymakers and development organizations dedicated to improving the quality of early childhood interventions in developing countries.

CEDEC is an interdisciplinary initiative born at the University of Chicago from a critical mass of students and faculty working to understand what shapes early childhood development.


CEDEC’s mission is to build a bridge between leading researchers and policymakers in order to synthesize, disseminate and implement state-of-the-art knowledge of early childhood development, particularly in the context of developing countries. In this way, we hope to contribute to attempts to break the vicious cycle of poverty and inequality created in the early years of life.

Three principles guide the Initiative: First, the expansion of our knowledge can best be achieved through rigorous research. Second, the formation of capabilities in early childhood can only be properly understood from a multidisciplinary perspective. Finally, the exchange of ideas regarding specific interventions should go beyond identifying what works to understanding why different policies work, as this will inform the effective design of policies in different contexts.

CEDEC will work to achieve its mission by:

• Promoting recent multidisciplinary advances in understanding how capabilities are produced during pregnancy and early childhood.

• Linking researchers and policymakers to facilitate the design, implementation, and rigorous evaluation of policies that incorporate these advances.

• Contributing to the creation of knowledge in the area of early childhood development that explicitly addresses the needs and constraints of developing countries.