Video: Economist on removing barriers to human capital development

Author: Todd Boruff

“Development economics allows me the opportunity to ask a range of questions about topics that I feel passionate about, using the tools that economists use to come up with very specific, clean answers to important social questions,” said Taryn Dinkelman, associate professor of economics at the University of Notre Dame.

Dinkelman studies labor markets and human capital in developing countries, primarily in her native South Africa as well as Malawi and Chile. One current project uses South African household survey data to track the effects of newly-gained access to electricity. Dinkelman thinks that a key constraint for households is the capital to acquire large appliances that use the electricity. “When you can use a stove or use a fridge to get those home production needs met, you have more time to go and work in the labor market,” said Dinkelman. "Use of small machinery to fix cars or run a hair salon out of your home...can be directly income-generating."

Notre Dame’s social mission of focusing on the poorest in society makes the University a natural fit for development economists, according to Dinkelman. “Certainly from the students’ perspective, I have noticed an excitement about trying to make a difference in the world and that gels with a lot of the research questions that I’m interested in myself,” said Dinkelman.

You can also watch this video on YouTube.