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Human Capital Policy

  • Carneiro, Pedro

    ()

    (University College London)

  • Heckman, James J.

    ()

    (University of Chicago)

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.

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File URL: http://ftp.iza.org/dp821.pdf
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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 821.

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Length: 151 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2003
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: J. Heckman and A. Krueger, Inequality in America: What Role for Human Capital Policy?, MIT Press, 2003
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp821
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