Economics of Well-Being, Culture and Human Development

Early skill development and healthcare are crucial for later educational and workplace success. However, the most critical factors for this success and the best means of facilitating their development are only beginning to be understood. Economics of Well-Being, Culture, and Human Development investigates these factors in a multi-pronged way.

Fundamentally, we try to understand the cultural effects that determine the development of motivational and cognitive skills as well as good health practices. This line of basic research links directly to applied questions such as: How can early skill development be enhanced? How do cultural factors facilitate or impair early skill development and lifelong well-being? Practically, we assist firms, public entities, and NGOs in working to improve the schooling system and the welfare of society.

Research projects

Exemplary project: Promoting the Abandonment of Female Circumcision in Sudan (C. Efferson, E. Fehr, S. Vogt)

Female circumcision is a puzzle because it can lead to a number of health problems that cause females considerable harm throughout their lives. Why, then, do loving parents decide to circumcise their young daughters? Our research uses a number of laboratory and field experiments to try and answer this question in Sudan. In particular, we attempt to analyze the cultural processes that sustain female circumcision by identifying the different norms and beliefs that influence perceptions of women's health, beauty, and marriage prospects. Apart from potentially improving our scientific understanding of how social norms evolve culturally, a rigorous analysis of the relevant processes in Sudan can also inform the design of applied programs that promote the voluntary abandonment of female circumcision and other dangerous practices that negatively impact child development and social well-being.

Selected research projects

Connections to courses

Courses on the Economics of Well-Being, Culture, and Human Development involve principles and techniques drawn from the fields of economics, education, medicine, neuroscience, psychology, and sociology. This topic is suitable for students interested in using a multidisciplinary approach to address key basic scientific questions and to apply those insights in order to promote early life skill development and well-being. For students who focus on this area, there are a wide range of excellent employment opportunities with private firms, academic and public organizations, and NGOs that aim to improve human development in the cognitive, social-motivational, and health domains The following list provides examples of courses particularly related to our topic.

List of courses

More detailed information on each module can be found by copying the 8-digit code into the search field of the University’s course catalogue.

Course catalogue

Bachelor's level

Labor Economics BOEC0277
Team Leadership and Team Organization - Applied Project Management BOEC0294
The Economics of Gender BOEC0314
Organisation & Management BOEC0131
Change Management BOEC0289
Designing Effective Organizations BOEC0132
Introduction to Neuroeconomics and Social Neuroscience BOEC0120

Master's level

Human Capital, Technological Change and Financial Development in a Global World MOEC0348 
Ethics and Economics: Inequality MOEC0373

Doctoral level

Econometrics for Research Students DOEC0379
DOEC0494
Frontiers in Social Neuroscience and Neuroeconomics DOEC0068
Personnel Economics and Economics of Education DOEC0428
Foundations of Human Social Behavior DOEC0451
Decision Neuroscience DOEC0133
Network Dynamics DOEC0498

Faculty members involved

The following Faculty members research and/or teach in Economics of Well-Being, Culture and Human Development.