NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

The Economics and Psychology of Inequality and Human Development

Flavio Cunha, James J. Heckman

NBER Working Paper No. 14695
Issued in January 2009
NBER Program(s):   CH   ED   HC   HE   PE

Recent research on the economics of human development deepens understanding of the origins of inequality and excellence. It draws on and contributes to personality psychology and the psychology of human development. Inequalities in family environments and investments in children are substantial. They causally affect the development of capabilities. Both cognitive and noncognitive capabilities determine success in life but to varying degrees for different outcomes. An empirically determined technology of capability formation reveals that capabilities are self-productive and cross-fertilizing and can be enhanced by investment. Investments in capabilities are relatively more productive at some stages of a child's life cycle than others. Optimal child investment strategies differ depending on target outcomes of interest and on the nature of adversity in a child's early years. For some configurations of early disadvantage and for some desired outcomes, it is efficient to invest relatively more in the later years of childhood than in the early years.

download in pdf format
   (1125 K)

email paper

The NBER Bulletin on Aging and Health provides summaries of publications like this.  You can sign up to receive the NBER Bulletin on Aging and Health by email.

This paper is available as PDF (1125 K) or via email.

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w14695

Published: Flavio Cunha & James J. Heckman, 2009. "The Economics and Psychology of Inequality and Human DEvelopment," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 7(2-3), pages 320-364, 04-05. citation courtesy of

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded these:
Almlund, Duckworth, Heckman, and Kautz w16822 Personality Psychology and Economics
Cunha and Heckman w12840 The Technology of Skill Formation
Heckman, Stixrud, and Urzua w12006 The Effects of Cognitive and Noncognitive Abilities on Labor Market Outcomes and Social Behavior
Cunha, Heckman, Lochner, and Masterov w11331 Interpreting the Evidence on Life Cycle Skill Formation
Borghans, Duckworth, Heckman, and ter Weel w13810 The Economics and Psychology of Personality Traits
 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
NBER Videos
Data
People
About

Support
National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email: info@nber.org

Contact Us