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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Stratification, Stress-Related Morbidity, and Labor Supply at Older Ages

Grant Year: 2018

Grant Type: dissertation scholar

This research brings together social psychology, epidemiology, and stratification economics using the Health and Retirement Study’s Psychosocial Leave-Behind Questionnaire and Enhanced Face-to-Face Interviews (2006-2012) to investigate whether Blacks’ higher rates of both hypertension and inflammation (as measured by elevated levels of C-reactive protein) can be explained through their higher exposure to psychosocial and economic liabilities, and their limited access to economic resources. Further, this research explores whether this heightened exposure to hypertension and inflammation increases Blacks’ likelihood of early labor force exit (leaving the labor force before 62).

Using IRS tax data to measure the long-term effects of California’s 2004 Paid Family Leave Act

Grant Year: 2018

Grant Amount: $75,868, co-funded with the Russell Sage Foundation

Grant Type: academic

This project will use IRS tax records to study the effects of California’s 2004 paid family leave insurance on labor market and family formation outcomes for both men and women. Byker and Bailey’s research has two significant advantages over the existing literature on paid parental leave in the United States. First, because they are using administrative data, they have an extremely large sample size, which will allow for potentially stronger conclusions than previous studies to date. The large sample size also allows for the study of heterogeneous effects, which has previously been difficult due to data limitations. Second, the long-term longitudinal nature of their panel allows for the first-ever study of long-term policy effects on employment, earnings, fertility, family formation, and other important impacts. This research comes at a time when many states are actively debating public paid family leave policies, and a national-level conversation is ongoing.

Using linked Census data to examine occupation mobility in the United States

Grant Year: 2018

Grant Amount: $68,000

Grant Type: academic

Recent research by Raj Chetty and other economists using tax return data has allowed for a deeper understanding of the levels and trends of economic mobility in the United States, but there hasn’t been equivalent data for the analysis of social mobility. This study will develop a new longitudinally linked U.S. Census American Community Survey dataset that will allow for parallel analyses of occupational mobility. This will be an important complement to the recent work on economic mobility that will allow for a richer understanding of what mobility actually looks and feels like for Americans. An analysis of occupational mobility in addition to economic mobility will allow for an analysis of whether individuals trade higher earnings for other occupational traits such as prestige, creating a more nuanced understanding of what opportunity looks like. In addition, the project will advance the literature by decomposing intergenerational occupational mobility by race, migration status, family structure, and type of occupation. This work is part of a larger database creation effort at the U.S. Census Bureau, the American Opportunity Study, which will create a panel that will represent the full U.S. population over the past 70 years, increasing the ability of researchers to use linked census data to study many demographic and economic questions in the later half of the 20th century.

The organizational bases of discrimination

Grant Year: 2018

Grant Amount: $65,000

Grant Type: academic

This project will continue an important empirical line of research that uses innovative field-based experimental methods to understand the dynamics of discrimination. The researchers will combine an audit study with a survey of employers. The audit data has significant advantages over past audit studies: It examines a broader range of job openings by using BurningGlass data; examines a larger number of employers and responses to applications; examines a broader range of cities; and examines race by gender and by parental status simultaneously. The researchers will survey employers, focusing on three main areas: personnel policies such as affirmative action, parental leave, and flex time; hiring practices such as the use of technology, referrals, and standardized interview protocols; and the demographics, size, number of locations, and age of the company. This research will directly test several outstanding questions in the literature, particularly the connection between formalization procedures and discrimination, the effectiveness of diversity initiatives, and the role of technology. This project’s findings will provide a more precise assessment of how organizations perpetuate gendered, racial, and parental-status discrimination.

Parental resources and the career choices of young workers

Grant Year: 2018

Grant Amount: $15,000

Grant Type: doctoral

This project will investigate how parental resources influence the career choices of young workers, with a specific focus on the impact of parental resources on entrepreneurship and job mobility. Staiger hypothesizes that parental resources shape behavior by providing insurance and relaxing credit constraints. Using U.S. administrative data, he will exploit mass layoffs to estimate the causal effect of parental resources at the time of the layoff on the labor market outcomes of young workers. This is the first project of its kind to use administrative data rather than survey data to investigate how parental resources may impact young workers’ labor market outcomes. Specific outcomes to be explored include the relationship between a young adult’s parents’ earnings at the time of layoff on long-run expected earnings, job mobility, and entrepreneurial activity. The research represents a creative look at the relationship between inequality, innovation, and business dynamism.

What works and what workers try: Social mobility paths beyond the bachelor’s degree and the impact of racialized inequality

Grant Year: 2018

Grant Amount: $15,000

Grant Type: doctoral

This project will look at what alternative approaches could allow those in low-income communities—the majority of which are communities of color—to negotiate an exit from poverty. As the middle of the jobs market has hollowed out and the college wage premium has increased, much of the conversation around policy solutions has focused on upskilling or encouraging more people to pursue higher education. Two-thirds of Americans, however, still lack a bachelor’s degree, a proportion that hasn’t changed much over the decades. This raises the question of what alternative policies could encourage mobility. Hill will explore how economic inequality shapes the perceptions and knowledge of opportunities and options among those in low-income communities of color. In light of deeply racialized American inequality, this project aims to shed light on mechanisms creating and prohibiting social mobility among "low-skilled" or noncollege-educated workers of color.

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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