Skip navigation

University College Dublin Logo

Advanced Search

UCD News

Nuacht UCD

Posted 16 May 2011

EU grant for Nobel prize-winner puts Ireland at vanguard of health inequalities research

The European Research Council has awarded Nobel prize-winning economist, Professor James Heckman of the University of Chicago and University College Dublin (UCD), €2.5 million grant aid to identify the root causes of health inequalities in society.

Heckman will centre the research at University College Dublin where he holds the title of Professor of Science and Society at the UCD Geary Institute.

Pictured far right: Prof James Heckman

The international team of experts from University College Dublin, University of Bristol, University of Essex, and University of Chicago, will combine health, psychological and economic research, to examine the origins and the evolution of health inequalities over lifetimes and across generations.

One of the central focuses of the research will be on how experiences and conditions during early childhood - such as family environment, wellbeing, and cognitive ability – influence long-term health.

The world’s most cited researcher in epidemiology, George Davey Smith, Professor of Clinical Epidemiology at Bristol University is among the international team.

“Tackling health inequalities is explicitly part of the current Irish Programme for Government and is also central to policy issues globally, so this funding award is critically important,” says Professor Colm Harmon, Director of the UCD Geary Institute.

“This investment reflects our research strengths. It will place Ireland and University College Dublin at the forefront of economic research on early investment in human development”, says Dr Orla Doyle who will lead the UCD team involved.

Heckman is world-renowned for his groundbreaking research into the positive economic outcomes acquired from investment in early childhood development.

His value analysis of early childhood programmes revealed that investments in programmes for disadvantaged children provides a 10% per annum return to society through increased personal achievement and social productivity of the children concerned.

He was awarded the Nobel Prize in 2000 for his contributions to the field of econometrics – the statistical methods underlying economic analysis.

“It is encouraging and exciting for the European Research Council to number Heckman amongst its grant holders,” said Professor Helga Nowotny, President of the European Research Council (ERC).  “This most recent example of an American top researcher attracted by an ERC grant to work in Europe is further recognition of the attractiveness of the ERC.”

Austan Goolsbee of the University of Chicago and Chairman of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers recently described Heckman to the New York Times as one of the ‘great labour economists of all time, a pioneer of empirical analysis of labour markets, human capital and education”.

(Produced by UCD University Relations)


>> More News and Events
<< Back to Home

Prof James Heckman - HEA Chairman: Higher education system must prioritise pursuit of excellence
Share this story...