Rob Grunewald

Rob Grunewald on the Economic Impact of Early Childhood Investments

Rafael Otto

Jan 13, 2020

In this episode of The Early Link Podcast, we speak with Rob Grunewald, an economist who advocates for investments in early childhood programs and services.

Rob Grunewald is an economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. He conducts research on community development and regional economic issues and co-authored a report called “Early Childhood Development: Economic Development with a High Public Return.”


There are 12 Federal Reserve banks in the US, and the Minneapolis Federal Reserve serves Minnesota, northern WI and MI, Dakotas, and Montana. The mission of the Federal Reserve banks is to provide the nation with stable monetary policy and a safe and flexible financial system. This includes deciding which investments will have the most positive effect on the local economy. 

The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis’ interest in supporting early childhood development programs is important because these programs are rarely portrayed as economic development initiatives. If such programs exist they are usually at the bottom of the economic development lists for state and local governments. However, research has shown that is a mistake. Early childhood development programs should be at the top of the list. Most of the numerous projects and initiatives that state and local governments fund in the name of creating new private businesses and new jobs result in few public benefits. In contrast, studies liked the ones cited in Grunewald’s report find that well-focused investments in early childhood development yield high public as well as private returns.

Recommended Reading

“Early Childhood Development: Economic Development with a High Public Return”

“The Promise of Early Childhood Development in Indian County”

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