Exploring the capacity of families, schools, labour markets, and communities, to build and support human capabilities

Better evidence is needed in the development of innovative policies that support the social, civic and economic participation of individuals. We must refine our understanding of the role played by our social institutions in perpetuating or mitigating social disadvantage. These social institutions, which include families, schools, communities, and the social safety net, are crucial in the formation of human capabilities over time and across generations, but the processes by which they do this are not clear.

The Life Course Centre’s Human Capabilities Research Program sheds new light on the factors that lead to disadvantage and analyses the effectiveness of current practices and policies that aim to alleviate disadvantage. As part of its research, this program also develops and runs pilot studies, experiments and simulations that target the causative factors and discover more effective pathways out of disadvantage. The evidence base that this provides is forming the basis of sound policy advice to government departments, community organisations and families that will help them to effect real change.

Projects in this program are:

  • identifying causal effects of parental behaviour change on child development outcomes
  • developing new multi-dimensional measures to understand education choices and outcomes, and the impact of disadvantage on children’s cognitive and non-cognitive trajectories
  • determining the potential role of geographic mobility of wealth and asset accumulation in facilitating economic and social mobility
  • examining how the nature of the income support system contributes to the intergenerational transmission of income support dependency.

    Program Leader: Professor Deborah Cobb-Clark