Research Statement

The Economics of Human Flourishing

I am interested in the economics of human flourishing, or the circumstances under which people are able to develop the skills to thrive in our current economy. These encompass the conventional, cognitive sense of the word (education, on-the-job training) as well as the noncognitive sense (such as the qualities of perseverance and accountability). I develop theoretical models of parental choice and child preference formation, as well as intergenerational models of family influence. I also estimate dynamic models of the evolution of skills and capacities using longitudinal data.


With my co-authors, I develop dynamic nonlinear factor models to organize large-scale developmental data sets and use multiple measurements and multiple equations to identify technologies of skill and health formation. This work determines the origins of human differences and the effectiveness of alternative intervention strategies to foster human skills and capacities and remediate disadvantages.

I am the founding director the Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Global Working Group (with Robert Dugger and Steven Durlauf). I am a member of the Becker-Friedman Institute for Research in Economics and a Senior Advisor for the China Development Research Foundation. 


I seek collaboration with biologists, economists, psychologists, neuroscientists, sociologists, and statisticians doing serious work on the origins of human inequality and the effectiveness of remediation. Many details remain to be addressed, but the vision is clear: in order to develop a strong theory of human flourishing, a strong interdisciplinary effort is required.

For more information on and discussion of my research, see the Research and Impact sections of this site, as well as my CV.