Thrive: Evidence for Scaling Childhood Development

Woman and child smiling

Thrive is a large-scale, multi-country research and policy programme which aims to build understanding of Early Childhood Development (ECD) service delivery models, at scale, and how they can transform to significantly improve childhood health, nutrition, education and wellbeing outcomes in low- and middle-income countries. Thrive seeks comprehensive, practical answers about how ECD systems innovate, improve, and better serve children and communities.


The importance of Good Early Childhood Development

Good Early Childhood Development shapes the future for the next generation. A growing global evidence base, insight, and experience shows that low-cost, high-impact nurturing care services, provided to mothers, families, carers and communities, can have a significantly positive impact on child development.

Positive childhood development leads to large and positive impacts on school achievement, income and employment, and long-term health. When taken to scale, individual benefits have positive economy-wide outcomes on poverty, inequality and growth, and strengthen society – including in girls’ learning and increased female economic empowerment.

Thrive partners

Thrive is managed by Oxford Policy Management in collaboration with the Institute for Fiscal Studies and Yale University. Our partners also include:

  • Boston College and their Research Programme on Children and Adversity,
  • FAIR- the Norwegian School of Economics,
  • Christian Michelsen Institute,
  • Institute for International Economic Studies Stockholm University,
  • Sightsavers.
  • Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS).
Thrive Countries

Thrive will work in five key countries - Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Kiribati, Ghana and Bangladesh.

The programme is also developing a research agenda, including additional cross-cutting topics, with a view towards regional expansion and broader collaboration.

The ECD Challenge

Some key facts that emerge from the global literature on child development in low- and middle-income countries show:

  • Many pilot projects fail and not all successful pilot projects are scaled up. There is huge variation in the success of ECD programmes and, even in cases where pilot programmes are found to be effective, impacts often disappear once the programme is scaled-up.
  • In many instances, positive short-term effects largely disappear within a few years. In general, limited data is available for medium-term effects after children complete programmes.
  • Important positive long-term effects have been found in a significant number of cases, including those where there are diminishing effects in the medium term. There are hypotheses but no consensus on exactly how this happens. It demonstrates gaps in our knowledge as to how different child skills develop over time and that one set of skills can be important in the development of another set of skills.


The purpose of Thrive is to support government and national stakeholders to rapidly scale effective and inclusive ECD services and policies with timely data, analysis, insights and consulting support. In that process, THRIVE will continue to build national research capabilities that will support scaling and effectiveness beyond the end of Thrive.

This purpose extends beyond national boundaries to support regional and global efforts at scaling ECD services by ensuring that lessons learned nationally are synthesised, adapted and promoted to help meet the major ECD challenges faced regionally and globally.


Visit the Thrive programme website here.

Areas of expertise