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How much might human capital policies affect earnings inequalities and poverty?


  • Jere R. Behrman



Economic inequality and poverty have persisted in Latin America despite important changes in political and policy regimes. This paper explores the relationship between various human capital programs aimed to reduced poverty and how improvements of those in poverty in the left tail of the earning income distribution are likely to reduce inequality. First it reviews some recent benefit/cost estimates for human capital intervention in LAC, suggesting some investments in which the returns appear quite high. Then it turns over to how much increases in schooling attainment targeted to the poor would reduce poverty and income inequality. This is illustrated empirically using the 2004 Chilean Social Protection Survey data. Alternative simulations suggest significant impacts of well targeted increases in schooling attainment on reducing poverty and inequality.

Suggested Citation

  • Jere R. Behrman, 2011. "How much might human capital policies affect earnings inequalities and poverty?," Estudios de Economia, University of Chile, Department of Economics, vol. 38(1 Year 20), pages 8-41, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:udc:esteco:v:38:y:2011:i:1:p:8-41

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Jere R. Behrman & Susan W. Parker & Petra E. Todd, 2009. "Schooling Impacts of Conditional Cash Transfers on Young Children: Evidence from Mexico," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 57(3), pages 439-477, April.
    2. Ariel Fiszbein & Norbert Schady & Francisco H.G. Ferreira & Margaret Grosh & Niall Keleher & Pedro Olinto & Emmanuel Skoufias, 2009. "Conditional Cash Transfers : Reducing Present and Future Poverty," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 2597, June.
    3. Jere R. Behrman & Susan W. Parker & Petra E. Todd, 2005. "Long-Term Impacts of the Oportunidades Conditional Cash Transfer Program on Rural Youth in Mexico," Ibero America Institute for Econ. Research (IAI) Discussion Papers 122, Ibero-America Institute for Economic Research.
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    Cited by:

    1. Javier Núñez & Andrea Tartakowsky, 2007. "Inequality of outcomes vs. inequality of opportunities in a developing country. An exploratory analysis for Chile," Estudios de Economia, University of Chile, Department of Economics, vol. 34(2 Year 20), pages 185-202, December.
    2. Jaime Ruiz-Tagle, 2007. "Forecasting wage inequality," Estudios de Economia, University of Chile, Department of Economics, vol. 34(2 Year 20), pages 141-162, December.

    More about this item


    Inequality; Poverty; Human capital.;

    JEL classification:

    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality
    • I3 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity


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