Reducing Inequality Through Complementarities in Investments in Education and Health

Reducing Inequality Through Complementarities in Investments in Education and Health

Project manager: Aline Bütikofer 

Project duration: August 2018 - August 2022


The primary goal of this project is to analyze whether inequality can be reduced through complementarities in investments in education and health. Specifically we will use data from Norway and the US to study the dynamic processes through which multiple input interact in affecting the emergence or prevention of inequalities. The results will have important policy relevance both for Norway and other countries in developing cost-effective policies to address these inequalities.

The secondary goal of this project is to facilitate collaboration between the Norwegian School of Economics and the international network of the participants. We want to invite top international researchers in labor and health economics to workshops in Bergen. We also want to go on research visits to the US to visit international researchers and work on our projects.

In the past decades, many Western societies have experienced a sharp increase in inequalities along many dimensions, including education, income, and physical and mental health. These inequalities pose considerable challenges for the wellbeing of recent cohorts, and there is an acute need for rigorous research to inform the design of cost-effective policies to address them. Such research is, however, complex and requires a deep understanding of the causal processes underlying these inequalities. In this project, we aim to understand the dynamic processes through which multiple policies interact in affecting the emergence and evolution of inequalities. Causally identifying interactions among policies requires (quasi)randomization in multiple periods or across multiple policies. To date, only a handful of papers were able to overcome this obstacle. In this project, we make use of administrative data from Norway paired with different interventions that allow us to empirically answer whether there is a dynamic component to human capital investment and in which periods human capital may be particularly affected by interventions. In particular, we study complementarities in infant health, early-life education, nutrition, and mental health and we will carry out four separate projects.

The unique combination of knowledge about policy interventions or health shocks and high-quality register data will enable us to contribute to the international research frontier in labor and health economics. Additionally, our research will benefit policy-makers by informing the design of early life policies that can reduce social, economic and health inequalities.

What the grant covers:

Procurement of registry data
Salary for a PhD student
Research assistants
Adjunct Professor positions
PhD course


FAIR-CELE workshop 8-9 August 2019

 FAIR-CELE Workshop 7-9 June 2020


Core research team

Meghan Skira

Assistant Professor
University of Georgia

Prashant Bharadwaj

Associate Professor
University of California, San Diego

Krzysztof Karbownik

Research Associate
Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University

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