Grant Category

Human Capital

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 Opt-Out Mechanism for Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance: Could it Work?

Grant Year: 2018

Grant Amount: $35,000

Grant Type: academic

This project seeks to determine the feasibility of a paid family and medical leave insurance (PFMLI) program with an opt-out mechanism. While state PFMLI programs in the United States vary somewhat in program parameters, all essentially require eligible workers to participate and are funded through payroll contributions. Some allow employers to self-insure and opt out of the public program. Generally, employees do not have that option. But proposed legislation in New Hampshire would create a program that contains an employee opt-out mechanism. There is a large gap in understanding of this design choice. Which individuals would opt out? And which would opt out initially and then opt in later? And how would that interact with the employer self-insurance opt-out? The answers have lasting implications for the cost of the program, the level of benefits that can be offered, the possibility of implicit or explicit bias against low-wage women workers of reproductive age, and the ultimate success of the program. The researcher will create, distribute, and analyze a survey of New Hampshire workers in an effort to predict their behavior if such a program were to be implemented.

The Impact of Work-Family Legislation on Business: The Case of New York City’s Paid Sick Days Law

Grant Year: 2014

Grant Amount: $20,150

Grant Type: academic

This project seeks to identify the impact of workforce characteristics on the employer costs of implementing paid leave policies. The researchers will perform an empirical examination of the way New York City’s paid sick days law has affected covered businesses. They will undertake an employer survey of 350 firms, analyze the impact of workforce characteristics on costs, firm profitability, the share of the workforce that has access to paid sick days, and on the number of paid sick days available to specific categories of workers before and after the law.

Federal financial aid and postsecondary success for low-income students

Grant Year: 2019

Grant Amount: $15,000

Grant Type: doctoral

This research will investigate how low-income and first-generation students respond financially and academically to financial aid austerity by exploiting a 2011 change that the U.S. Congress made to Pell grant eligibility that affected nearly 286,000 students. As a result, an estimated 12,000 students were eliminated from eligibility for a Pell grant, and 274,000 students received fewer grant dollars. The project will estimate the impact of this sudden unexpected loss in financial aid on college attendance, financial aid, and labor supply outcomes for low-income college students using a combination of restricted-use data from the Beginning Postsecondary Students survey and the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study. The researcher will use the panel nature of the data to track changes in outcomes for students from one academic year to the next. A regression discontinuity design will be employed to estimate the causal effect of the loss on various educational and labor market outcomes.

Criminal record information and access to opportunity: Using the 2010 CORI reform as a natural experiment

Grant Year: 2019

Grant Amount: $15,000

Grant Type: doctoral

Russell will explore whether the Massachusetts Criminal Offender Record Information, or CORI, reform affected the likelihood that ex-offenders moved to higher-opportunity neighborhoods. This work sits at the intersection of two important policy areas—criminal justice reform and neighborhood access/mobility—and brings a racial lens to the question. It also seeks to understand whether the reform promotes statistical racial discrimination in housing, as some research has suggested “Ban the Box” laws unintentionally have.

The effects of employment incentives and cash transfers on parent and child outcomes: Evidence from the long-run effects of welfare reform experiments

Grant Year: 2019

Grant Amount: $80,000

Grant Type: academic

This project seeks to extend the evidence on welfare policies by examining the long-run effects of a high-impact set of randomized experiments conducted by the nonprofit organization MDRC in the late 1980s and 1990s involving more than 100,000 welfare recipients. This is the first study of its kind to look at the very long-term effects of welfare reform experiments on adult outcomes. In each study, welfare recipients were randomly assigned to either a control, Aid to Families with Dependent Children-like program, or to interventions involving different combinations of job training, job search assistance, financial incentives to work, childcare subsidies, time limits, and/or sanctions. Merging data from these experiments with administrative tax data and other data held at the U.S. Census Bureau, Hoynes will study the long-run impacts of welfare policies on many important outcomes, including earnings and employment, fertility, marriage, mortality, and program participation for adult welfare recipients and, importantly, their children.

Evaluating the Philadelphia Fair Workweek Standard to identify the consequences of scheduling regulation on workers and families

Grant Year: 2019

Grant Amount: $72,000

Grant Type: academic

This research will assess before and after data in Philadelphia across industries that are and are not subject to the recent scheduling regulation in order to investigate the effectiveness of the policy, including unintentional consequences such as a reduction in the total number of hours offered to an employee. Using a daily diary study conducted via cellphone text message in English and Spanish, the project will survey 1,000 Philadelphia workers in low-wage service occupations who have a young child (ages 2 to 7). It will compare voluntary and involuntary schedule changes by using daily diaries to assess changes in hours and schedules in order to discern not only the frequency and distribution of unpredictability, but also its effect on low-wage parents and children. The results of this study will provide unique, causal information on the potential effects of new scheduling laws on both parents and children.

Experts

Guest Author

Kevin Rinz

U.S. Census Bureau

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Guest Author

Naomi Zewde

City University of New York (CUNY) Hunter College

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Grantee

Andrew Elrod

University of California, Santa Barbara

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Guest Author

Jonathan D. Moreno

University of Pennsylvania

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Grantee

Gauti Eggertsson

Brown 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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