M. Rebecca Kilburn

Senior Economist; Professor, Pardee RAND Graduate School
Off Site Office


Ph.D. in economics, University of Chicago; M.A. in economics, University of Chicago; B.A. in economics, Kenyon College

Media Resources

This researcher is available for interviews.

To arrange an interview, contact the RAND Office of Media Relations at (310) 451-6913, or email media@rand.org.

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M. Rebecca Kilburn is a senior economist at the RAND Corporation and a professor at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. Her research focuses on the effects of public and private investments in children. She is currently the co-principal investigator of the Welcome Baby Implementation and Outcomes Evaluation. First 5 Los Angeles sponsors this study, which assesses fidelity and outcomes of the Welcome Baby home visiting program. Kilburn is also currently undertaking a randomized trial evaluation of the First Born® Program, a home visiting model that combines nurses and other trained staff to enhance the health and developmental outcomes of children and their parents. She is conducting another evaluation that is helping Taos Pueblo discover cost-effective incentive options to promote enrollment and retention in their tribal MIECHV home visiting program. In addition to projects on program evaluation, Kilburn is also conducting projects that conduct cost-benefit analyses of children and family interventions. She coauthored Investing in Our Children, RAND's pathbreaking 1998 report that contained some of the original cost-benefit analysis of early childhood interventions. Subsequent publications synthesized evaluations of early childhood interventions, including home visiting programs, to generate estimates of pooled effect sizes, identify features of effective programs, and estimate costs and government savings produced by these interventions. Other ongoing research includes a project funded by the European Commission that identifies and disseminates best practices in child and family policy for the 27 member states of the European Union. Kilburn holds a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Chicago.

Recent Projects

  • First Born Program Randomized Trial Evaluation
  • Getting To Outcomes® for Home Visiting
  • Evaluation of Hawaii's P-3 Initiative
  • European Platform for Investing in Children
  • Welcome Baby Implementation and Outcomes Evaluation

Selected Publications

Cannon, Jill S., M. Rebecca Kilburn, Lynn A. Karoly, Teryn Mattox, Ashley N. Muchow, and Maya Buenaventura, Investing Early: Taking Stock of Outcomes and Economic Returns from Early Childhood Programs, RAND Corporation (RR-1993), 2017

Kilburn, M. Rebecca and Jill S. Cannon, "Home Visiting and Utilization of Infant Health Care: A Randomized Clinical Trial," Pediatrics, 139(1), 2017

Zellman, Gail L., and M. Rebecca Kilburn, Final Report on the Hawai’i P-3 Evaluation, RAND Corporation (RR-1100), 2015

"Testimony presented before the House Ways and Means Committee, Subcommittee on Human Resources on April 2, 2014," in Kilburn, M. Rebecca, Evidence on Home Visiting and Suggestions for Implementing Evidence-Based Home Visiting Through MIECHV, RAND Corporation (CT-407), 2014

Mattox, Teryn, Hunter, Sarah B., Kilburn, M. Rebecca, Wiseman, Shelley H., Getting To Outcomes® for Home Visiting: How to Plan, Implement, and Evaluate a Program in Your Community to Support Parents and Their Young Children, RAND Corporation (TL-114-SMN), 2013

Kilburn, M. Rebecca and Jill S. Cannon, "Factors that Influence the Successful Start-Up of Home Visiting Sites: Lessons Learned from Replicating the First Born® Program," Journal of Primary Prevention, 36(4), 2015

Mattox, Teryn and M. Rebecca Kilburn, "Understanding Evidence-Based Information for the Early Childhood Field: Tips From RAND's Promising Practices Network," Zero to Three Journal, 32(4), 2012

Honors & Awards

  • Promising Practices Network named Finalist, Harvard's Innovation in American Government Awards

Recent Media Appearances

Interviews: 2 Minute Medicine


  • Children reading in a library

    Hawaii Reading Scores Improved After 'Preschool to Third Grade' Initiative

    Hawaii's “preschool to third-grade” initiative significantly improved third-grade reading scores. The P-3 approach is a promising education reform that should be considered by those seeking to improve early education performance.

    Dec 21, 2015 Honolulu Star-Advertiser

  • Elementary students raising their hands in class

    A Comprehensive Approach to Early Education

    A relatively new approach to improving long-term educational outcomes, called “preschool to third grade,” or P-3, focuses on the youngest students. Hawaii's recent initiative has been successful at raising third-grade reading scores.

    Nov 23, 2015 U.S. News & World Report

  • Social worker conducting a home visit with a new mother

    MIECHV Reauthorization: Recommendations from Research

    Funding for the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting program was extended through fiscal year 2017, without policy changes. If Congress decides to make policy changes to MIECHV in the future, research on home visiting programs can inform recommendations.

    Apr 17, 2015 The RAND Blog

  • U.S. President Barack Obama is introduced to speak by Christian Champagne from Chicago at the unveiling of Obama's "My Brother's Keeper" initiative

    Realizing the Potential of 'My Brother's Keeper'

    The White House has mobilized an impressive coalition to address a critical national challenge, and used the power of research evidence to begin to structure the initiative. By drawing more lessons from research, the initiative can further bolster its chance to build strong and lasting ladders of opportunity and success for boys and young men of color.

    Mar 16, 2014 The Hill

  • two women with smiling baby girl, adorable, adult, baby, beautiful, caucasian, cheerful, child, cute, daughter, embracing, enjoyment, expression, face, family, fun, funny, generations, girl, granddaughter, grandma, grandmother, happiness, happy, home, infant, lady, laughing, little, love, mature, mother, mum, nanny, offspring, people, playful, senior, smiling, three, three-generation, toddler, together, togetherness, woman, women

    Support for Implementing Home Visiting Under the Affordable Care Act

    One groundbreaking provision of the Affordable Care Act is its funding for home visiting programs that match the parents of young children with trained specialists who provide information, social support, parental skill instruction, and more.

    Jan 8, 2014 The RAND Blog

  • teacher and pediatrician observing children

    The Time Is Ripe for Evidence

    Earlier this year, the European Commission renewed its commitment to promoting child well-being. One of the guidelines was to strengthen the use of evidence-based policy. This is noteworthy because it represents one of the first times that the EC has specifically advocated the use of evidence in policy making.

    Dec 2, 2013 The Alliance for Useful Evidence

  • colorful crayons

    The President's Early Childhood Expansion Should Take a 'Portfolio' Approach

    A optimal approach to strategically expanding access to early childhood programs is one that helps states and communities identify evidence-based approaches that address their particular needs, within the context of their characteristics, writes M. Rebecca Kilburn.

    Feb 21, 2013 The RAND Blog