Watch: 2024 Downing Public Lecture

Professor Sandra E. Black, Professor of Economics and International and Public Affairs at Columbia University, presented the 2024 Downing Public Lecture at the University of Melbourne, on Thursday, February 8, 2024.

Where does wealth come from?

Recent decades have seen substantial increases in wealth inequality; this is particularly troubling given the high persistence of this inequality across generations. Yet, we have surprisingly little understanding of how and why wealth is transmitted across generations. Is this persistence driven by innate biological differences across families? Or is it driven by growing up in a different environment with access to different opportunities?

In the 2024 Downing Public Lecture, Professor Sandra E. Black discusses the economics research that tries to answer this question, focusing on how one can disentangle the role of nature versus nurture. She also talks about what we actually mean when we think about differences in wealth.

Woman presenting lecture on stage
About the speaker

Sandra E. Black is a Professor of Economics and International and Public Affairs at Columbia University. She received her Bachelor of Arts from UC Berkeley and her PhD in economics from Harvard University. She has worked as an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and a Professor at the Department of Economics at UCLA. Professor Black also held the Audre and Bernard Centennial Chair in Economics and Public Affairs at the Department of Economics at the University of Texas at Austin before her appointment at Columbia University.

She is currently an editor of the Journal of Labor Economics and was previously co-editor and editor of the Journal of Human Resources.  Professor Black is a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) and the Director of the NBER Study Group on Economic Mobility. She served as a Member of Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers from August 2015 to January 2017. Her research focuses on the role of early life experiences on the long-run outcomes of children, as well as issues of gender and discrimination.

Group of people pose for a photo
(L-R): Professor Paul Kofman, Professor Abigail Payne, Professor Sandra E. Black, Josephine Norman, Jean Downing, and Professor Phillip McCalman.
About the lecture series

Distinguished visiting economists are invited to present at the Downing Lecture to promote analysis and discussion of economic and social research policy. The lecture series has been made possible by a generous fellowship established by friends and colleagues of the late Professor Richard Downing (BA (Hons) 1936), in memory of his life and work.

Richard Ivan Downing was Ritchie Professor of Research and Economics at the University from 1952 until his death in 1975. Not only did he make significant contributions to economic research, but he also put much effort into guiding and fostering the research interests of students and staff. For twenty years, he edited The Economic Record. He also played a prominent part in founding what is now the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research.

The University of Melbourne was delighted to have the late professor's wife, Jean, and granddaughter, Josephine Norman, attend the 2024 Downing Public Lecture.

More stories

No related articles found