Build a Scaffolding of Support

Professor James Heckman is frequently asked, “If we had X dollars to invest in reducing inequality or promoting human capital development, where should we invest it?”

His new paper, Build a Scaffolding of Support, provides the answers. He outlines eight key points:

  1. Pre-distributing wealth is much more effective than redistributing wealth.
  2. Resist the temptation to look for one silver bullet investment or program.
  3. Understand that skills beget skills.
  4. Look to build a scaffolding of support around disadvantaged children: parental education, nutrition, early learning and early health.
  5. Follow up on investments in parenting, early learning and health with access to high-quality preschool that develops cognitive and social and emotional skills.
  6. Make sure K-12 education develops the whole child, not just cognitive skills.
  7. Remediation efforts in K-12 and the young adult years should emphasize social and emotional development and mentorship.
  8. Focus on value, not on cost.

James J. Heckman is the Henry Schultz Distinguished Service Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago, a Nobel Laureate in economics and an expert in the economics of human development.

Download and share The Heckman Equation paper.