The Economics of Human Development and Social Mobility

Posted: 8 Aug 2014

See all articles by James J. Heckman

James J. Heckman

University of Chicago - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); American Bar Foundation; Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA); CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Stefano Mosso

University of Chicago - Department of Economics

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: August 2014

Abstract

This article distills and extends recent research on the economics of human development and social mobility. It summarizes the evidence from diverse literatures on the importance of early life conditions in shaping multiple life skills and the evidence on critical and sensitive investment periods for shaping different skills. It presents economic models that rationalize the evidence and unify the treatment effect and family influence literatures. The evidence on the empirical and policy importance of credit constraints in forming skills is examined. There is little support for the claim that untargeted income transfer policies to poor families significantly boost child outcomes. Mentoring, parenting, and attachment are essential features of successful families and interventions that shape skills at all stages of childhood. The next wave of family studies will better capture the active role of the emerging autonomous child in learning and responding to the actions of parents, mentors, and teachers.

Suggested Citation

Heckman, James J. and Mosso, Stefano, The Economics of Human Development and Social Mobility (August 2014). Annual Review of Economics, Vol. 6, pp. 689-733, 2014. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2477751 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1146/annurev-economics-080213-040753

James J. Heckman (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Department of Economics ( email )

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Stefano Mosso

University of Chicago - Department of Economics ( email )

Graduate School of Business
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Chicago, IL 60637
United States

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