Teodora Boneva studies the role of beliefs in educational investment decisions. She uses novel primary data sets and uses a variety of different research methods such as field experiments and survey-based techniques to understand which educational interventions can promote skill acquisition and narrow socio-economic gaps in achievement. An important part of this work is to develop new survey methods to measure individual beliefs about the benefits of different educational investments made in the childhood period. Understanding how individuals make educational investment decisions is crucial for our understanding of how to promote skill acquisition.
My plans for the fellowship period
Building on previous work, I would like to investigate several related research questions. First, I aim to explore the role of parental beliefs in the educational decisions parents make for their children. I will investigate how parents from different socio-economic groups perceive the benefits and costs of different educational decisions and explore which informational interventions may be effective in encouraging low socio-economic status parents to invest more into their children’s skills. Second, I aim to shed further light on the role of beliefs in the educational decisions children make for themselves. While parents play an important role in their children’s lives while children are young, the educational decisions children make for themselves become increasingly more important as children grow older. Given the importance of children’s and adolescents’ educational choices for their later-life outcomes, we need a better understanding of how they think about their future and how they perceive the benefits and costs of different educational paths they can take. I am especially interested in exploring the extent to which beliefs about the benefits of different educational paths differ across socio-economic groups and which interventions may close the well-documented gap in children’s willingness to invest into their skills.
How will my work change children’s and youth’s lives?
My research helps us identify which policy interventions may be effective in promoting equality of opportunity at different stages of childhood, starting from an early age. Consequently, the research findings will not only be of interest to academics but also to practitioners and policy makers. The research findings are also likely to be of interest to the general public as parents might benefit from the knowledge generated by the different projects. Ultimately, the research has the potential of promoting the accumulation of skills during childhood. Since those skills have been shown to have large impacts on important later-life outcomes, such as health and earnings, the research findings have the potential of enhancing the well-being and quality of life of both children and their families. Given the low levels of social mobility in many countries around the world, the proposed research is highly policy relevant as it will help us understand how to effectively narrow socio-economic gaps in life outcomes.