HCEO Director James Heckman spoke with the Yale Daily News about his recent paper, “Intergenerational Effects of Early-Life Advantage: Lessons from a Primate Study.” The paper, co-authored by Amanda Dettmer, Juan Pantano, Victor Ronda, and Stephen Suomi, uses three decades of studies with Rhesus monkeys to investigate the intergenerational effects of early life advantage. The authors estimate, for the first time, the intergenerational complementarity of early life advantage, where the intergenerational effects of maternal rearing are only present for offspring that were mother-reared. Professor Heckman told the paper “that it is known from human studies that exploration is critical for learning in both primates and humans.”

“In the ancient, perennial, persistent, problem of nature versus nurture, we saw a real effect of nurture,” Heckman said. “We can separate them by random assignment and separate their children by random assignment, and by going down the chain we can actually start understanding how important parenting can be.”

You can read the full Yale Daily News article here, and the working paper here.