Climent Quintana-Domeque is Professor of Economics in the Department of Economics of the Business School at the University of Exeter. He earned his PhD in Economics from Princeton University under the supervision of Alan Krueger, and his BA in Economics from Universitat Pompeu Fabra (first ranked in the class of 2002). He is a FINET member in the HCEO group since May 2011, and currently is one of the editors at the Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics.
Describe your area of study and how it relates to current policy discussions surrounding inequality.
My area of study is human capital, inequality, and health across the world. Recently, I have been studying how individuals in the US match on human capital (education) in the so called “marriage market”, exploiting genetic information from the Health and Retirement Study; how natural disasters (such as hurricanes) affect the health of vulnerable populations (babies of young mothers) in developing countries using administrative data from Brazil; and how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the mental wellbeing of the population in the UK, finding that women and ethnic minorities have been more negatively affected than men and ethnic majorities.
The connection with current policy discussions surrounding inequality can be both direct and indirect. If individuals with higher human capital tend to marry individuals with higher human capital, inequality in human capital can be transmitted from one generation to another via the marriage market. Due to climate change, the frequency and severity of natural disasters are increasing. Individuals most vulnerable to the effects of climate change often live in less developed countries and so climate change may exacerbate existing global inequalities. Finally, understanding the unequal effects on mental wellbeing of the COVID-19 pandemic will inform policymakers when preparing for future pandemics and addressing the repercussions of the current pandemic.
What areas in the study of inequality are most in need of new research?
If I had to pick four of them, I would highlight that new research is clearly needed to study the determinants of mental health (from both the theory and the measurement sides), the wellbeing of ethnic minorities (larger samples of data are needed to make sure we can produce reliable inference), the impact of new technologies such as smart phones on human development (for children and teenagers, in particular) and the effects of climate change on health (with a focus on vulnerable populations).
What advice do you have for emerging scholars in your field?
I would tell them three things. First, descriptive research can be important, causal inference work can be important, and theoretical studies can be important; it all depends on the question(s) being asked. Second, be humble and aware of the pros and cons of any methodology you use. Finally, be respectful to others, open to ideas and methods from other fields and disciplines, generous with your time, and enjoy what you do!