Gender Path-Breakers
“College is Not a Commodity, Stop Treating It Like One”

Inequality Begins in the Womb

By Jonathan B. Wight

The PBS Newshour recently ran an article by John Komlos that summarizes some of the work by Nobel-Prize winning economist James Heckman and others on inequality and early childhood development.

The bottom line is that the human fetus, and then the infant in its early years, faces serious developmental challenges.  The absence of nutrition or health care at certain critical junctures results in permanent underdevelopment of adult capacities. Fetus

The cost to society in terms of lost human capital is staggering, and as you would suspect, the cost of prevention would be much cheaper.  Yet prevention (e.g., through universal health care) has not been a top agenda item in the American political economy landscape.

America is all about the ideology of the individual achiever, overcoming obstacles on his own, with no help from society. 

Yet the fetus and the infant cannot be individual achievers! They are completely dependent on parents or other care givers.  And the culture of low income parents can often lead to behaviors that exacerbate human capital formation in their own offspring. 

Heckman thus concludes that, ““the accident of birth is the greatest source of inequality in America today.”

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

This reinforces the maxim that the most important career-enhancing decision one can make is to choose one's parent(s) and country of birth wisely.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)