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What should be our human capital investment policy?


  • James Heckman

    (Institute for Fiscal Studies and University of Chicago)


This paper considers the magnitude of the human capital investment required to offset the increase in the inequality in labour earnings in the US economy since 1979. It considers the ineffectiveness of government training policies, the effectiveness of private sector training and the conflict between economic efficiency and the work ethic. It also considers revisions of the tax code. The importance of the distinction between the long view and the short view in analysing human resource policies is emphasised.

Suggested Citation

  • James Heckman, 1998. "What should be our human capital investment policy?," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 19(2), pages 103-119, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:ifs:fistud:v:19:y:1998:i:2:p:103-119

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Jacobson, Louis S & LaLonde, Robert J & Sullivan, Daniel G, 1993. "Earnings Losses of Displaced Workers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(4), pages 685-709, September.
    2. Donohue, John J, III & Siegelman, Peter, 1998. "Allocating Resources among Prisons and Social Programs in the Battle against Crime," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 27(1), pages 1-43, January.
    3. Lynch, Lisa M, 1992. "Private-Sector Training and the Earnings of Young Workers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(1), pages 299-312, March.
    4. Heckman, James J, 1976. "A Life-Cycle Model of Earnings, Learning, and Consumption," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(4), pages 11-44, August.
    5. Couch, Kenneth A, 1992. "New Evidence on the Long-Term Effects of Employment Training Programs," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 10(4), pages 380-388, October.
    6. Robert J. LaLonde, 1995. "The Promise of Public Sector-Sponsored Training Programs," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(2), pages 149-168, Spring.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Blog mentions

    As found by, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Education or redistribution?
      by chris dillow in Stumbling and Mumbling on 2006-03-31 17:06:34


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    Cited by:

    1. Cornelia Serena, PASCA, 2016. "The Human Capital - A Long Term Investment," Contemporary Economy Journal, Constantin Brancoveanu University, vol. 1(4), pages 51-62.
    2. Laura Abramovsky & Erich Battistin & Emla Fitzsimons & Alissa Goodman & Helen Simpson, 2011. "Providing Employers with Incentives to Train Low-SkilledWorkers: Evidence from the UK Employer Training Pilots," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 29(1), pages 153-193, January.
    3. Richard Disney & Amanda Gosling, 1998. "Does it pay to work in the public sector?," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 19(4), pages 347-374, November.
    4. Friebel, Guido & Magnac, Thierry, 2007. "Public Servants: a Competitive Advantage for Public Firms?," IDEI Working Papers 495, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
    5. Yanick Labrie & Claude Montmarquette, 2005. "La formation qualifiante et transférable en milieu de travail," CIRANO Project Reports 2005rp-04, CIRANO.
    6. Bas Jacobs & Sweder J. G. van Wijnbergen, 2007. "Capital-Market Failure, Adverse Selection, and Equity Financing of Higher Education," FinanzArchiv: Public Finance Analysis, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 63(1), pages 1-32, March.
    7. Wolfram F. Richter & Kerstin Schneider, 2015. "Education: Optimal Choice and Efficient Policy," CESifo Working Paper Series 5352, CESifo Group Munich.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy
    • H40 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - General


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