At CESR, our scientists, colleagues and staff pursue compelling, data-driven research in the social sciences and economics that further understanding, policy making and quality of life. In broad terms, our significant areas of interest include

  • As the proportion of older people increases worldwide, governments, policy makers and individuals will face major challenges in healthcare, retirement and labor market supply. With fewer workers to fund retiree needs, population shifts will burden low-income countries. CESR research addresses these critical issues to guide decision making in economic growth, employment, retirement, health care and social services.

  • Researchers in CESR’s Program for Children and Families conduct theoretical and empirical research on the determinants and consequences of children’s health, educational and developmental outcomes starting from birth through young adulthood. This research examines the influences of family-level factors, neighborhoods and communities, and policy environment on the well-being of children and families. The Program consists of an interdisciplinary group of researchers representing a wide range of disciplines including economics, sociology, psychology, and public policy.

  • Effective development policies can improve the potential well-being for an entire population. Health, education, workforce and family finance are all essential areas of study, particularly in emerging economies. Our researchers investigate all aspects of the development process in growing countries. We are defining theories and methods that can assist in the creation and implementation of policies and practices by public and private entities for lasting impact. For current and past projects see our development site.

  • Our research explores the impact of policies on education economics and ways to help improve education policy and practices. CESR experts evaluate specific education programs and policies. In addition, we focus on the analysis and development of new methods for education reforms, minority access, interactions between schools and labor market outcomes, returns to education, and measurement and improvement of education quality.

  • How do people reach decisions about issues affecting their economic status, particularly in old age? At CESR, we use creative research methods to unlock behavioral economics. We’re interested in how people collect and process information, interpret alternatives, think about risks and probabilities and trade off between present and future. Weak links are used to draw implications for better education and ways to help people make decisions that better serve them as they age.

  • CESR researchers explore the links between health and wealth, as well as differences in health between people. Health disparities can affect how frequently a disease affects a group or causes death and how many people get sick. We seek to define how racial and ethnic minorities, geographic areas, genders, ages, and disabilities affect individual health and income.

  • Our research into the causes of inequality explores disparities in health, economic, and education between socioeconomic and racial groups. We also explore the role of early childhood, parental circumstances and investments in disparities; and the causes of inequality between nations in wealth, health, longevity, and human capital. The goal: to raise public awareness and assist policy decisions.

  • CESR Researchers are working on a number of initiatives in LA County, and are seeking funding to build an “LA Observatory.” This program will combine survey data, stakeholder interviews and analysis to get at what affects residents of LA County, from health food choices, pollution, gentrification, homelessness, traffic, and politics.

    Our partners include USC’s Eliminating Homelessness Initiative, and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, USC Dornsife Office of the Dean, Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics, The City of Los Angeles Mayor’s Office.

    Recent projects include:

  • Obesity prevention and treatment in minority youth are critical to individual and societal health. Our transdisciplinary research employs the latest mobile health technologies to understand the biological, behavioral, social, and environmental causes of childhood obesity. Our objective: to develop culturally sensitive, evidence-based approaches that promote health behavior change.

  • How can we increase the accuracy and precision of information gleaned from the public? Using ecological momentary assessment tools, our researchers engage in intensive sampling of participants’ experiences 24/7, building a potentially invaluable data collection. This research employs such devices as palmtop computers and cell phones.

  • CESR research searches out the determinants of life satisfaction and well-being across nations around the world by incorporating many fields, including psychology, economics and sociology. To research well-being and happiness globally, we first correct for cultural differences in how people answer subjective questions. We survey, analyze and create economic models to understand these fascinating cross-country variations.

  • Disability support provides an important safety net relied on by economically vulnerable groups in many parts of the world. Our studies inform decisions about support for people whose ability to work is affected by disability. We examine outcomes of research on disability and policies that address disability to ensure they are effective and don’t jeopardize an already challenged population.