nep-evo New Economics Papers
on Evolutionary Economics
Issue of 2014‒03‒15
two papers chosen by
Matthew Baker
City University of New York

  1. The Economics of Human Development and Social Mobility By James J. Heckman; Stefano Mosso
  2. Caveat Lector: Sample Selection in Historical Heights and the Interpretation of Early Industrializing Economies By Howard Bodenhorn; Timothy Guinnane; Thomas Mroz

  1. By: James J. Heckman (The University of Chicago); Stefano Mosso (The University of Chicago)
    Abstract: This paper distills and extends recent research on the economics of human development and social mobility. It summarizes the evidence from diverse literatures on the importance of early life conditions in shaping multiple life skills and the evidence on critical and sensitive investment periods for shaping different skills. It presents economic models that rationalize the evidence and unify the treatment effect and family influence literatures. The evidence on the empirical and policy importance of credit constraints in forming skills is examined. There is little support for the claim that untargeted income transfer policies to poor families significantly boost child outcomes. Mentoring, parenting, and attachment are essential features of successful families and interventions to shape skills at all stages of childhood. The next wave of family studies will better capture the active role of the emerging autonomous child in learning and responding to the actions of parents, mentors and teachers.
    Keywords: capacities, dynamic complementarity, parenting, scaffolding, attachment, credit constraints
    JEL: J13 I20 I24 I28
    Date: 2014–02
  2. By: Howard Bodenhorn; Timothy Guinnane; Thomas Mroz
    Abstract: Much of the research on height in historical populations relies on convenience samples. A crucial question with convenience samples is whether the sample accurately reflects the characteristics of the population; if not, then estimated parameters will be affected by sample selection bias. This paper applies a simple test for selection biased developed in Bodenhorn, Guinnane, and Mroz (2013) to several historical samples of prisoners, freed slaves, and college students. We reject the hypothesis of no selection bias in all cases. Using Roy’s (1951) model of occupational choice, we interpret these findings as reflecting the economic forces that lead individuals to take the actions the led to inclusion in the sample. Our findings suggest that much of the evidence on the “industrialization puzzle” during the nineteenth century could reflect changing selection into the samples rather than changes in population heights.
    JEL: N01 N31
    Date: 2014–03

This nep-evo issue is ©2014 by Matthew Baker. It is provided as is without any express or implied warranty. It may be freely redistributed in whole or in part for any purpose. If distributed in part, please include this notice.
General information on the NEP project can be found at For comments please write to the director of NEP, Marco Novarese at <>. Put “NEP” in the subject, otherwise your mail may be rejected.
NEP’s infrastructure is sponsored by the School of Economics and Finance of Massey University in New Zealand.