Children’s cognitive development and health

Funding agency

Australian Research Council

Project period

2018 - 2022


Project investigator

PhD students

Project aims

Childhood and adolescence are critical periods of life, during which investments in health and education can have life-long impacts. Children who grow up in poor families are less likely to excel at school, and are more likely to be overweight, drink alcohol and have behavioural problems in adolescence. But there are some children who defy the social gradient and achieve success in life, despite their initial disadvantage. What is it that makes some children succeed, while others from similar backgrounds fall behind? How important are the decisions about how children spend their time?

This Project aims to understand time investment decisions of children and adolescents. There is a need for more robust evidence on the combination of time investments that improve early cognitive skills and wellbeing. Using advanced econometric techniques and longitudinal data, this Project expects to generate new knowledge on how children and adolescents spend their time, and how such time investments affect their health and cognitive development. Expected outcomes of this Project include a greater understanding of the early determinants of health and economic inequalities. This is expected to benefit the development of effective policies for improving educational outcomes, preventing harmful behaviours and promoting health and wellbeing.


Arnup, J.L., Black, N. & Johnston, D.W. Changes in children’s time use during periods of financial hardship. J Popul Econ (2021).

Pre-print available here: