Measuring Human Capital

46 Pages Posted: 20 Feb 2019

See all articles by Noam Angrist

Noam Angrist

University of Oxford; Youth Impact

Simeon Djankov

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE); Peterson Institute for International Economics

Pinelopi Koujianou Goldberg

Princeton University; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Harry A. Patrinos

World Bank

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: February 14, 2019


Students around the world are going to school but are not learning -- an emerging gap in human capital formation. To understand this gap, this paper introduces a new data set measuring learning in 164 countries and territories. The data cover 98 percent of the world's population from 2000 to 2017. The data set will be publicly available and updated annually by the World Bank. The paper presents several stylized facts in a first application of the data: (a) although enrollment has increased worldwide, learning has stagnated; (b) girls outperform boys on learning -- a positive gender gap -- in contrast to a negative gender gap observed for schooling; (c) learning is associated with growth on a global scale; (d) associations with growth are heterogenous; and (e) human capital accounts for up to a third of cross-country income differences -- a middle ground in the recent development accounting literature. These stylized facts demonstrate the potential of the data to reveal new insights into the relationship between human capital and economic development.

Keywords: Inequality, Gender and Development, Social Capital, Global Environment, Coastal and Marine Resources, Energy and Natural Resources

Suggested Citation

Angrist, Noam and Angrist, Noam and Djankov, Simeon and Goldberg, Pinelopi Koujianou and Patrinos, Harry Anthony, Measuring Human Capital (February 14, 2019). World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 8742, Available at SSRN:

Noam Angrist (Contact Author)

University of Oxford ( email )

Mansfield Road
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 4AU
United Kingdom

Youth Impact ( email )


Simeon Djankov

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) ( email )

Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

Peterson Institute for International Economics ( email )

1750 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20036
United States

Pinelopi Koujianou Goldberg

Princeton University ( email )

22 Chambers Street
Princeton, NJ 08544-0708
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Harry Anthony Patrinos

World Bank ( email )

1818 H Street NW
Washington, DC 20433
United States

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