The goal of this project is to analyze the effects of family and schooling on the development of health and the formation of other capabilities that promote health within and across generations. Our developmental approach focuses on factors that promote health, beginning in the early years, rather than on cures for diseases and their costs, the current focus of much health policy. To achieve this goal, we propose to develop and apply economic models to analyze numerous large- scale data sets with life-cycle information to investigate the sources of health disparities, and the mechanisms that social policy can influence: schooling and the family environments of children. We will investigate the causal foundations of the contemporaneous empirical association between health and socioeconomic status, including education, and the association between health at all stages of the life cycle and life-cycle environments and investments. We will build on our previous work to study how capabilities - cognition, personality traits, and health - determine a variety of outcomes. We will build on and extend our prior research on the technology of capability formation, analyzing parental investments in multi-sibling families and parental choices in alternative market settings. We will study the capabilities that determine health conditions and other outcomes, and the factors that determine the life-cycle and intergenerational evolution of these capabilities. This research will deepen our understanding of the sources of the education-health correlation and of other relationships between health and socioeconomic status, and the mechanisms that produce these relationships. It will suggest policies that foster the capabilities that promote education and health. We will use both experimental and nonexperimental data to develop dynamic models for the production of health and other capabilities. We will develop the econometric tools needed to identify the effects of capabilities on diverse outcomes and the effects of parental investment and schools on the formation of capabilities over the life cycle. We will develop techniques to pool data with comparable measurement frameworks from different segments of the life cycle to analyze life-cycle outcomes in the absence of life-cycle information from any single data set. To supplement our analysis of the dynamics of capability formation, and its implications for health, we will conduct parallel analyses on the life-cycle development of health for multiple generations of rhesus monkeys. Rhesus monkeys resemble humans in many important aspects. They share 95% of our genes and they have complex social structures. Working with Stephen Suomi at NICHD, we have access to rich, experimentally manipulated data on health, genes, environments, and personality traits over multiple generations, that we will analyze with our dynamic models of capability expression and capability formation.

Public Health Relevance

This project investigates life-cycle and intergenerational determinants of health and the life-cycle factors that produce these determinants. We investigate causal channels for promoting health that may guide public policy.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Method to Extend Research in Time (MERIT) Award (R37)
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Social Sciences and Population Studies Study Section (SSPS)
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King, Rosalind B
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National Bureau of Economic Research
United States
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Conti, Gabriella; Fr├╝hwirth-Schnatter, Sylvia; Heckman, James J et al. (2014) Bayesian Exploratory Factor Analysis. J Econom 183:31-57
Campbell, Frances; Conti, Gabriella; Heckman, James J et al. (2014) Early childhood investments substantially boost adult health. Science 343:1478-85
Gertler, Paul; Heckman, James; Pinto, Rodrigo et al. (2014) Labor market returns to an early childhood stimulation intervention in Jamaica. Science 344:998-1001
Heckman, James J; Lopes, Hedibert F; Piatek, Remi (2014) TREATMENT EFFECTS: A BAYESIAN PERSPECTIVE. Econom Rev 33:
Heckman, James J; Mosso, Stefano (2014) The Economics of Human Development and Social Mobility. Annu Rev Econom 6:689-733
Conti, Gabriella; Heckman, James J (2014) Understanding conscientiousness across the life course: an economic perspective. Dev Psychol 50:1451-9
Conti, Gabriella; Heckman, James J (2013) The developmental approach to child and adult health. Pediatrics 131 Suppl 2:S133-41
Conti, Gabriella; Hansman, Christopher (2013) Personality and the education-health gradient: a note on "understanding differences in health behaviors by education". J Health Econ 32:480-5
Heckman, James J (2012) The developmental origins of health. Health Econ 21:24-9
Campbell, Frances A; Pungello, Elizabeth P; Burchinal, Margaret et al. (2012) Adult outcomes as a function of an early childhood educational program: an Abecedarian Project follow-up. Dev Psychol 48:1033-43

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