Human Capital Policy

151 Pages Posted: 17 Aug 2003  

Pedro Manuel Carneiro

University College London - Department of Economics; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

James J. Heckman

University of Chicago - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); American Bar Foundation; Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA); CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

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Date Written: July 2003

Abstract

This paper considers alternative policies for promoting skill formation that are targeted to different stages of the life cycle. We demonstrate the importance of both cognitive and noncognitive skills that are formed early in the life cycle in accounting for racial, ethnic and family background gaps in schooling and other dimensions of socioeconomic success. Most of the gaps in college attendance and delay are determined by early family factors. Children from better families and with high ability earn higher returns to schooling. We find only a limited role for tuition policy or family income supplements in eliminating schooling and college attendance gaps. At most 8% of American youth are credit constrained in the traditional usage of that term. The evidence points to a high return to early interventions and a low return to remedial or compensatory interventions later in the life cycle. Skill and ability beget future skill and ability. At current levels of funding, traditional policies like tuition subsidies, improvements in school quality, job training and tax rebates are unlikely to be effective in closing gaps.

Keywords: Human Capital, Life Cycle

JEL Classification: J31

Suggested Citation

Carneiro, Pedro Manuel and Heckman, James J., Human Capital Policy (July 2003). IZA Discussion Paper No. 821. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=434544

Pedro Manuel Carneiro (Contact Author)

University College London - Department of Economics ( email )

Gower Street
London WC1E 6BT, WC1E 6BT
United Kingdom

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

James J. Heckman

University of Chicago - Department of Economics ( email )

1126 East 59th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
773-702-0634 (Phone)
773-702-8490 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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American Bar Foundation

750 N. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60611
United States

Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

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