News and Announcements

  • CEHD Director James J. Heckman’s research featured in Quartz
    CEHD Director James Heckman has “demonstrated the economic case for why the best investment a policymaker can make is in the earliest years of childhood,” writes Quartz. Read the full article here.
  • CEHD is Hiring Predoctoral Fellows
    The Center for the Economics of Human Development (CEHD) at the University of Chicago is actively hiring Predoctoral Fellows (Research Specialist 2) to conduct and disseminate rigorous interdisciplinary research that identifies and explores the conditions under which people develop the skills necessary to thrive in society and achieve their fullest potential. Descriptions for past and ongoing projects can be found on the Center’s website. 
  • CEHD Early Childhood Research Featured by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
    CEHD Executive Director Alison Baulos and CEHD alumni Jorge Luis Garcia discuss the importance of high-quality early childhood education in a Policies for Action blog post. The authors highlight the research efforts, led by CEHD Director James Heckman and Schaeffer Center Director Dana Goldman, on the costs and benefits of The Carolina Abecedarian Project (ABC) and the Carolina Approach to Responsive Education (CARE), two essentially identical early childhood programs. “ABC/CARE represents a 13.7 percent per-year, return on investment (tax-adjusted),” the authors write. “Our benefit/cost analysis predicts the program generates a benefit of over $7 for every dollar spent.” Bails and Garcia conclude that it is essential for policy makers not to focus on the short-term academic gains of early childhood education. “The more relevant measure of value is the long-term health, social and economic benefits produced,” they write. “We have powerful evidence that high-quality early childhood education is a cost-effective strategy for supporting life-long health outcomes, promoting economic growth, and reducing social costs.” You can read the full article here. You can read more about Heckman and Goldman’s research project here.        
  • CEHD is Hiring Post-Doctoral Scholars
    The Center for the Economics of Human Development (CEHD) at the University of Chicago is actively seeking Post-Doctoral Scholars interested in the economics of creating and measuring skills. Scholars are expected to conduct empirical collaborative work on one (or more) focused projects. Descriptions for past and ongoing projects can be found on the Center’s website. Scholars can propose new independent research projects consistent with the Center’s broad aims.
  • CEHD Director James J. Heckman Named to Illinois’ “Educational Success Committee”
    CEHD Director James J. Heckman has been tapped to join Illinois Governor-elect J.B. Pritzker’s transition committee on education. The transition team was announced on November 27 at the Genevieve Melody STEM Elementary School in the West Garfield Park neighborhood of Chicago.

Events and Workshops

February 19, 2019

Prosociality: Hard to build but easy to destroy

Fabian Kosse, LMU Munich & briq

The workshop takes place at 5:15pm at 5750 S. Woodlawn Avenue, Conference Room 180. Please enter through Saieh Hall. This interdisciplinary workshop is open to the campus research community. Learn more.

January 8, 2018

LWG: The Socio-Economic Consequences of Housing Assistance

Winnie Van Dijk , The University of Chicago

The workshop takes place at 5:15pm at 5750 S. Woodlawn Avenue, Conference Room 180. Please enter through Saieh Hall. This interdisciplinary workshop is open to the campus research community.

November 27, 2018

LWG: Causality in the Time of Cholera: John Snow as a Prototype for Identification and Causal Inference

Thomas Coleman, Harris School of Public Policy

Abstract: Snow's 1855 treatise "On the mode of communication of cholera" can be viewed as a sustained effort to convince skeptics, through argument and a wide variety of evidence, of the waterborne theory of cholera that he articulated in his 1849 essay of the same name. Snow's data and analysis provide a prototype for how to convincingly demonstrate causal effects, as applicable today as in 1855. I consider two of strands of Snow's evidence - the Broad Street outbreak and the south London "Grand Experiment" - as pedagogical examples for using non-experimental data as evidence in support of a causal effect. In doing so I discuss extensions to Snow's south London analysis using modern techniques and tools: difference-in-differences regression and quasi-randomized treatment designs. These provide clear and compelling examples of the modern techniques and tools, while confirming and strengthening Snow's original conclusion on the causal effect of water supply on cholera mortality.

The workshop takes place at 5:15pm at 5750 S. Woodlawn Avenue, Conference Room 180. Please enter through Saieh Hall. This interdisciplinary workshop is open to the campus research community.

November 20, 2018

LWG: Breaking the Links: Natural Resource Booms and Intergenerational Mobility

Kjell Salvanes , NHH Norwegian School of Economics

Do large economic shocks increase intergenerational earnings mobility through creating new economic opportunities? Alternatively, do they reduce mobility by reinforcing the links between generations? In this paper, we estimate how the Norwegian oil boom starting in the 1970s affected intergenerational mobility. We find that this resource shock increased intergenerational mobility for cohorts entering the labor market at the beginning of the oil boom in those labor markets most affected by the growing oil industry. The workshop takes place at 5:15pm at 5750 S. Woodlawn Avenue, Conference Room 180. Please enter through Saieh Hall. This interdisciplinary workshop is open to the campus research community.

Nov 6, 2018

LWG: Social Structure and the Local Structure of Human Mobility in Chicago

James Saxon is a Postdoctoral Researcher in the economics group of the Harris School, and a fellow of the Center for Spatial Data Science. He studies compactness as a tool for districting reform (gerrymandering), the graph structure of American neighborhoods, and the accessibility of public resources. In practice, this means constrained clustering algorithms. The workshop takes place at 5:15pm at 5750 S. Woodlawn Avenue, Conference Room 180. Please enter through Saieh Hall. This interdisciplinary workshop is open to the campus research community.

October 30, 2018

Parental Rearing Practices, Cultural Transmission and Cognitive Development

Avner Seror is research associate at the Smith Institute for Political Economy and Philosophy. His research focuses on the joint evolution of institutions and cultural norms, political economy and human development. Learn more

October 23, 2018

Gender Development and the Brain

Dr. Eliot’s research is centered on brain and gender development, especially the role of neuroplasticity in shaping neural circuitry and behavior. Learn more


Visiting dates: February 19 - 21 2019

Fabian Kosse is Professor for Applied Economics at LMU Munich and is affiliated with the Institute on Behavior and Inequality at the University of Bonn. His fields of specialization are economics & psychology and applied microeconometrics. He is especially interested in how preferences, personality, and skills are formed, and he particularly focuses on the role of the early social environment. Moreover, he also explores consequences of individual heterogeneities on educational, health, and labor market outcomes. Methodologically, he combines long-term field experiments with microeconometric panel data methods, incentivized measures, and the use of biomarkers.

Visiting dates: October 15 – October 19, 2018

Victor Ronda is an Assistant Professor of Economics at Aarhus University and a researcher at the TrygFonden’s Centre for Child Research. Victor has broad interests in labor economics, health economics and child development. His current research includes work on the interplay between genetic endowments and childhood environment in human capital formation, the role of teachers in the development of children’s cognitive and emotional skills, and on the mixed-returns of emotional skills in determining later-life outcomes.

Visiting dates: October 8 – 12, 2018

Alexandra Brentani has been a faculty member in the Department of Pediatrics of FMUSP since 2011, working on social and preventive medicine and primary care. Since 2007 she has been involved with the Western Region Project – the Medical school primary care platform. As the Executive Director from 2007-2011, and later as a council member, she participated in the planning, implementation and management of the platform using community-based health care as a model. In the Department of Pediatrics, she has worked with the assessment of health programs and health policies on child development. In 2011, she established a cooperation agreement with the "Harvard Center on the Developing Child" and since then, in cooperation with Professor Gunther Fink, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, she has conducted several research projects.

Visiting dates: February 15, 2018 – July, 2019

Andros Kourtellos is an Associate Professor of Economics at the University of Cyprus. His primary research interests are econometrics, inequality, social mobility, economic growth, and macroeconomics. His work has documented the existence of status traps in intergenerational mobility, which can reduce the impact of favorable shocks or interventions for disadvantaged children and so hinder upward mobility. Recently, he also developed estimation and inference for a structural threshold regression model, which is particularly useful for the estimation of multiple equilibria and poverty traps. In general, his work focuses on issues of model uncertainly, parameter heterogeneity, nonlinearities, and mixed frequencies. His findings highlight the difficulty in evaluating causal claims when theory provides insufficient guidance for econometric specification, as is typically the case in empirical economic growth.