Human capital is a key determinant of economic success, inequalities and intergenerational mobility. Studying how it is shaped by experiences, environment and investments and how it responds to different policies and interventions is critical to understanding the evolution of inequalities and how to tackle them.
Our research focuses on middle and low income countries and aims to tackle the many open questions that need to be answered in order to design effective policies in contexts where the need is greatest. We study how different dimensions of human capital are formed in childhood, adolescence and young adulthood, how disadvantage affects human capital formation and, critically, how interventions can be designed to mitigate these effects.
We work in collaboration with experts from several disciplines including psychology, public health and education, drawing on administrative, survey and cohort data, as well as new primary data collected using randomised controlled trials and longitudinal studies. Examples of topics covered within our current set of projects include studying the drivers and role of different parental investments for development of children in the first three years of life (India), how pre-schools shape children’s outcomes in the subsequent pre-school years (Colombia and Ghana), what distinguishes more and less effective teachers in primary schools (Vietnam), how to improve outcomes of adolescent girls (rural India) and how to design effective labour market programmes for disadvantaged youth (Colombia).
Underpinning our work are models of human capital formation tailored to the different stages of human development. A key cross-cutting theme is development of new methods to overcome the great challenges of measuring different aspects of human capital and relevant contextual and behavioural factors.