Flavio Cunha, a leader of our Early Childhood Interventions and Family Inequality networks, recently sat down with HCEO to discuss his research on human capital formation and the launch of the Texas Policy Lab.

"Right now we are all very excited at Rice University, because the School of Social Sciences has created the Texas Policy Lab," Cunha says. The Texas Policy Lab is a new initiative developed in collaboration with Texas state and local government agencies. The partnership aims to help state agencies design, implement, and evaluate both new and existing social programs using data and science-driven results.

Cunha notes that the Lab is currently working with the Texas Department of Correctional Justice and the Texas Department of Family Services, and are working on partnerships with local educational agencies and other departments that serve low-income populations.

"A lot of this program is going to be related to human capital formation at different stages of the life cycle, working with children, both from the Texas Education Agency and also the Department of Family Protective Services," he says. 

Cunha has long focused on issues related to the causes and consequences of inequality and poverty, as well as the importance of investments in cognitive and noncognitive skills. "A lot of the other research that I have been doing is really about promoting investments in the human capital of children," he says. He has a collaboration with Rice University, Children’s Hospital Philadelphia, and the LENA Foundation, which is evaluating and finessing an intervention designed to improve the language environment of young children. He also has a research project in Brazil that is developing and evaluating a home-visiting program.

"All of this involves high-quality data collection and very robust evaluation methods," Cunha says. He is a Professor of Economics at Rice University and a Research Associate at the Population Studies Center at the University of Pennsylvania.