Grant Category

Human Capital and Wellbeing

How does economic inequality affect the development of human capital, and to what extent do aggregate trends in human capital explain inequality dynamics?

The acquisition and deployment of human capital in the market drives advances in productivity. The extent to which someone is rich or poor, experiences family instability, faces discrimination, or grows up in an opportunity-rich or opportunity-poor neighborhood affects future economic outcomes and can subvert the processes that lead to productivity gains, which drive long-term growth.

How does economic inequality affect the development of human capital, and to what extent do aggregate trends in human capital explain inequality dynamics? To what extent can social programs counteract these underlying dynamics? We are interested in proposals that investigate the mechanisms through which economic inequality might work to alter the development of human potential across the generational arc, as well as the policy mechanisms through which inequality’s potential impacts on human capital development and deployment may be mitigated.

  • Economic opportunity and intergenerational mobility
  • Economic instability
  • Family stability
  • Neighborhood characteristics

Explore the Grants We've Awarded

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The Impact of Paid Sick Leave Mandates on Women’s Employment, Income, and Economic Security

Grant Year: 2021

Grant Amount: $15,000

Grant Type: doctoral

As the U.S. economy emerges from the coronavirus recession, public policies to support women’s ability to return to work and stay in the workforce will be necessary for economic recovery. This study seeks to assess if paid sick leave reduces short-term income volatility and increases long-term economic security through improved job attachment among women, particularly those who are less likely to have access to paid sick leave in the absence of paid sick leave mandates. Using the American Community Survey, Slopen will conduct analyses at the state and county level using the five states and 21 counties that implemented paid sick leave as the treatment group. She will exploit the variation in the timing of the implementation of mandates at the state or county level using a difference-in-differences approach to estimate the effect of paid sick leave mandates on women’s labor force participation, continuity of employment, weekly hours worked, income, and poverty. She also will identify effects on subpopulations most likely to lack access to paid sick leave in the absence of mandates.

The Effects of Redlining Maps: a Novel Estimation Strategy

Grant Year: 2021

Grant Amount: $15,000

Grant Type: doctoral

This project investigates the causal effects of discriminatory assessment practices introduced by the New Deal-era federal agency, the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation. Specifically, the two researchers plan to examine HOLC’s systematic evaluation of neighborhoods and the maps it produced based on credit risk. Research has already led to the understanding that HOLC practices were a type of institutional discrimination. Data collected by the two researchers show that in 1930, about 86 percent of Black Americans lived in areas deemed hazardous (denoted in red on the maps, hence the term “redlining”) while almost 98 percent of the population in higher-rated areas was White. This research will measure how grade assignments affected the evolution of home values, income composition, and residential segregation in the short run and the long run. They will tackle the question by exploiting the fact that only cities over a certain population threshold were affected by the program. They will utilize a machine-learning algorithm to compare redlined neighborhoods with those that would have been redlined had the city been large enough to be affected by the program.

Extended-Family Wealth, Race, and the Transition to Homeownership

Grant Year: 2021

Grant Amount: $15,000

Grant Type: doctoral

There is a significant racial divide in homeownership, as well as wealth, in the United States. In 2018, 73 percent of White householders owned their homes, compared to only 42 percent of Black householders, and the typical White household owned 20 times as much wealth as the typical Black household. A number of factors may explain this disparity, but one key contributor is the positive association between wealth and the ability of renters to transition to homeownership. This project will consider nonparental family members as potential sources of financial assistance to prospective homeowners. Utilizing the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, Bucknor will measure household wealth, parental wealth, grandparental wealth, and extended-family wealth, including businesses owned, transaction accounts, real estate, stocks, vehicles, home equity, and other assets, minus all debts. This research is poised to add to our understanding of intergenerational transmission of wealth and the far-reaching impacts of structural racism, and give insight into policies that may be effective in addressing persistent racial wealth inequality.

Homeownership Disparities and Access to Family Child Care

Grant Year: 2021

Grant Amount: $15,000

Grant Type: doctoral

This project will use longitudinal data from two states to explore racial disparities in access to family child care centers by looking at rates of homeownership and disparities in homeownership by race. Family child care centers—licensed child care centers located within an operator’s home—make up a declining but still substantial proportion of the supply of formal child care. There are many obstacles to licensing a family child care center in a rental property, so areas with low rates of homeownership may experience a lack of access to this often more affordable child care option. Family child care centers also tend to have more flexible hours, making them especially valuable for parents working irregular or unpredictable schedules. Borowsky will conduct a market-definition analysis intended to approximate regions of common demand and supply. He will then evaluate the extent to which low rates of homeownership in a region are associated with low supply of family child care centers.

Is COVID-19 Exacerbating Inequities in Subsidized Child Care?: Policy Lessons to Strengthen the Home-Based Sector

Grant Year: 2021

Grant Amount: $68,734

Grant Type: academic

An estimated 7.5 million children under 6 years old are cared for by home-based child care providers each year, which represents the majority of young children in regular nonparental care arrangements in the United States. Home-based child care programs are more affordable and accessible to a broad range of families, especially low-income, Black and Latinx, and rural families. The pandemic has drawn attention to longstanding racialized inequities in access to child care and the structural inequalities that are perpetuated due to insufficient investment in the home-based child care sector. This project will document trends over time (before, during, and after the pandemic) in access to child care subsidies for home-based care providers using administrative records data for the state of Illinois, paying particular attention to the racial composition of those receiving child care subsidies and those who serve racially diverse and economically disadvantaged families through the child care subsidy program. The analysis of the administrative records will be able to show how licensed and unlicensed providers' access to child care subsidies were affected by the pandemic, compared with one another and compared with center-based care. The two researchers will augment this analysis with in-depth interviews with home-based care providers. These qualitative interviews will explore how home-based care providers fared during the pandemic.

School-to-Work Pathway and Racial/Ethnic Inequality among College Graduates

Grant Year: 2021

Grant Amount: $82,000

Grant Type: academic

This project examines the source of racial and ethnic inequality among the highly educated workforce in the United States by focusing on how educational credentials translate into U.S. labor market outcomes. The racial and ethnic wage divide is the largest and has expanded the most among highly educated workers, despite the fact that people of color in the United States are registering higher educational attainment. This project seeks to shed light on that by exploring how educational credentials translate into positions in the U.S. labor market and whether there are mismatches. Specifically, the project will investigate vertical and horizontal dimensions of education-occupation mismatches. Vertical mismatch refers to a mismatch between a worker's educational credentials and the level of education required for the occupation, such as a college graduate working as a retail sales associate. Horizontal mismatch refers to a mismatch between a worker's field of study and the type of education required for the occupation, for example, an engineering major working as an accountant. Lu will incorporate a demand-based measure of mismatch using online job-posting data compiled by Burning Glass Technologies, in addition to pooling two decades of nationally representative longitudinal data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation. She will investigate which dimensions of mismatch and which processes in the employment relationship drive racial and ethnic labor market inequality by exploring initial occupational allocation, subsequent occupational trajectory, and wage consequences of mismatch. Lu also will investigate how educational stratification factors into ethnic/racial disparities by looking at degree levels, fields of study, and college quality.

Experts

Staff

Kate Bahn

Equitable Growth

Director of Labor Market Policy and Interim Chief Economist

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Grantee

Elena Patel

University of Utah

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Grantee

Bweikia Steen

George Mason University

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Grantee

Brennan Williams

University of Virginia

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Matthew Johnson

Duke University

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Our funding interests are organized around the following four drivers of economic growth: the macroeconomy, human capital and the labor market, innovation, and institutions.

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