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Policies to Foster Human Capital

  • James J. Heckman

This paper considers the sources of skill formation in a modern economy and emphasizes the importance of both cognitive and noncognitive skills in producing economic and social success and the importance of both formal academic institutions and families and firms as sources of learning. Skill formation is a dynamic process with strong synergistic components. Skill begets skill. Early investment promotes later investment. Noncognitive skills and motivation are important determinants of success and these can be improved more successfully and at later ages than basic cognitive skills. Methods currently used to evaluate educational interventions ignore these noncogntive skills and therefore substantially understate the benefits of early intervention programs and mentoring and teenage motivation programs. At current levels of investment, American society underinvests in the very young and overinvests in mature adults with low skills.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 7288.

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Date of creation: Aug 1999
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Publication status: published as Heckman, James J., 2000. "Policies to foster human capital," Research in Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 3-56, March.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7288
Note: LS PE CH
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  1. David Card & Alan B. Krueger, 1996. "School Resources and Student Outcomes: An Overview of the Literature and New Evidence from North and South Carolina," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(4), pages 31-50, Fall.
  2. Heckman, James & Layne-Farrar, Anne & Todd, Petra, 1996. "Human Capital Pricing Equations with an Application to Estimating the Effect of Schooling Quality on Earnings," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 78(4), pages 562-610, November.
  3. John Cawley & James Heckman & Edward Vytlacil, 1999. "On Policies To Reward The Value Added By Educators," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(4), pages 720-727, November.
  4. Thomas, D. & Currie, J., 1993. "Does Head Start Make a Difference?," Papers 694, Yale - Economic Growth Center.
  5. James Heckman & Pedro Carneiro, 2003. "Human Capital Policy," NBER Working Papers 9495, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. James Heckman & Neil Hohmann & Jeffrey Smith & Michael Khoo, 2000. "Substitution And Dropout Bias In Social Experiments: A Study Of An Influential Social Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(2), pages 651-694, May.
  7. James Heckman & Lance Lochner & Christopher Taber, 1998. "Explaining Rising Wage Inequality: Explanations With A Dynamic General Equilibrium Model of Labor Earnings With Heterogeneous Agents," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 1(1), pages 1-58, January.
  8. Ann P. Bartel, 1991. "Productivity Gains From the Implementation of Employee Training Programs," NBER Working Papers 3893, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. 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 380-88, October.
  10. Neal, Derek, 1997. "The Effects of Catholic Secondary Schooling on Educational Achievement," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(1), pages 98-123, January.
  11. Arulampalam, W. & Robin A. Naylor & Jeremy P. Smith, 2002. "University of Warwick," Royal Economic Society Annual Conference 2002 9, Royal Economic Society.
  12. John Cawley & James Heckman & Edward Vytlacil, 1998. "Understanding the Role of Cognitive Ability in Accounting for the Recent Rise in the Economic Return to Education," NBER Working Papers 6388, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Eric A. Hanushek, . "The Evidence on Class Size," Wallis Working Papers WP10, University of Rochester - Wallis Institute of Political Economy.
  14. Browning, Martin & Hansen, Lars Peter & Heckman, James J., 1999. "Micro data and general equilibrium models," Handbook of Macroeconomics, in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 8, pages 543-633 Elsevier.
  15. 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 S11-44, August.
  16. 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.
  17. Duane E. Leigh, 1995. "Assisting Workers Displaced by Structural Change: An International Perspective," Books from Upjohn Press, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, number awd, November.
  18. Paul Decker & Walter Corson, 1995. "International trade and worker displacement: Evaluation of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Program," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 48(4), pages 758-774, July.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. James J. Heckman & Rebecca L. Roselius & Jeffrey A. Smith, 1993. "U.S. Education and Training Policy: A Re-evaluation of the Underlying Assumptions Behind the "New Consensus A Re-evaluation of the Underlying Assumptions Behind the "New Consensus"," Working Papers 9304, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago.
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