The goal of this project is to develop a comprehensive framework for analyzing inequality in capabilities over the life course, with a focus on midlife to late life outcomes. Capabilities are the capacities to act. They shape the opportunity sets available to persons at each stage of their life cycle. We seek support to create a Research Network on the Determinants of Life Course Capabilities and Outcomes. Participants in the network will be leaders in their fields. The network will span disciplines including economics, psychology, genetics, sociology, and statistics. It will build on and extend existing collaborations and networks in place. The goal is to synthesize and extend understanding of the measurement and development of capabilities. New approaches for both measurement and development will be assessed and disseminated through training workshops. We will train a new generation of scholars not limited by traditional field boundaries. Scientific meetings will facilitate communication between psychologists, economists, geneticists, and others on frontier research topics. Alternative perspectives on the same research question will be presented;areas of commonality as well as differences will be identified and charted. Workshop content will emerge year by year in light of the findings reported at each conference. A pilot grant program will permit us to commission research projects which instantiate the syntheses that we envision emerging from these exchanges. Training workshops, which will focus on graduate students and new professionals, will provide mechanisms for creating a long-run research program training scholars in the tools and perspectives of the various disciplines.
The work of the research network will focus on understanding the variation in life course outcomes and so will facilitate basic understanding of processes by which inequality and disadvantage emerge. By extension, this research will facilitate policy evaluation, as well as the design of new policies.