New cross-disciplinary center to support human development research

The new Center for the Economics of Human Development, a cross-disciplinary initiative to support quantitative research on the conditions that support human flourishing, will be launched at a May 30 event in Ida Noyes Hall.

Provost Eric Isaacs and Social Sciences Division Dean Mario Small will attend the launch event, which will run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and will feature research presentations by scholars including Flavio Cunha, PhD’07, assistant professor of economics at the University of Pennsylvania.  


James J. Heckman, a Nobel laureate and the Henry Schultz Distinguished Service Professor of Economics, will serve as the center’s faculty director. He said the center will support work by UChicago faculty, students and visiting scholars. Its mission is to develop knowledge that fosters human development by “identifying sources of disadvantage and promoting equality of opportunity,” Heckman said. He added that the center will “produce theoretical and empirical research that integrates ideas and methods across the social and natural sciences to create rigorous evidence for public policy.”

“We are 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,” Heckman said.

Funded by federal and private grants, the center will allow Heckman and his fellow researchers to place under one umbrella their multiple research initiatives, which span disciplines, organizations and geographical regions. These initiatives include the Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Global Working Group at the Becker Friedman Institute for Research in Economics, the Economics Research Center in the Department of Economics, and Chicago Harris’ Pritzker Consortium on Early Childhood Development and Center for Social Policy Evaluation.

A group of Heckman’s former students have pledged $1 million to help support the new center. The Pritzker Children’s Initiative of the JB & MK Pritzker Family Foundation has provided a $2.1 million grant in support of the center, which will be housed at 5740 and 5750 S. Woodlawn Ave. 

Click here for more information on the May 30 launch event, which will be webcast on UChicago Live. RSVP is required; please click here to register.