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Lecture 9

EARLY YEARS AND FAMILIES

The Chetty, Hendren, Kline, Saez paper on variations in social mobility within the United States explored the correlation between a number of community level characteristics and the degree of intergenerational mobility. Labour market inequality was an important correlate, but so was family structure.

How families interact with labour markets and the level and security of their income will influence the long run prospects of their children, but so will many other non-monetary investments that they make in their children. Some of the variation of social mobility between and within countries may have to do with the strength of families.

In this lecture we study papers that adapt the Becker-Tomes model to recognize that children pass through a series of phases in their development, and that the quality and timing of investments at one stage lay down the conditions for successfully passing through subsequent stages. The Heckman-Mosso paper articulates this view, reflecting knowledge from the brain sciences, which is introduced in the Heckman paper.

The student led discussion will bring this theme into relief by examining Chapter 5 in Fair Progress, “Equalizing Opportunities for Children in Achieving Fair Progress.”

Download the Lecture 9 slides.

Heckman, James J. and Stefano Mosso. 2014. The Economics of Human Development and Social Mobility. NBER Working Paper Series 19925. Cambridge, Mass.

Heckman, James J. 2008. “Schools, Skills, and Synapses.” Economic Inquiry 46 (3): 289–324.

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