James Heckman’s work on human capital investment has been prolific over the last number of years and has major implications for a wide range of policy areas. His papers are rarely easy reading, drawing from detailed structural econometric models that he has developed over several years with colleagues. A new website outlines his basic ideas in short and accessible videos and documents (h/t Colm Harmon who is one of a number of colleagues in UCD working on this area in Ireland). This is as close as it gets to a clear answer to a major question in Economics and is essential for any policy people who read this blog across fields such as health, education, social policy, criminal justice and a range of other fields. Heckman has emphasised rigorously designed and evaluated early childhood interventions that promote a broad range of skills and personal development.
Edward Luce has a really good piece on this much-studied phenomenon here.