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Measures of human capital: A review of the literature

  • Trinh Le
  • John Gibson
  • Les Oxley


    (The Treasury)

Human capital is increasingly believed to play an important role in the growth process, however, adequately measuring its stock remains controversial. This paper identifies three general approaches to human capital measurement; cost-based, income-based and education-based, and presents a critical review of the theories and their applications to data from a range of countries. Emphasis on empirical evidence will be given to the case of New Zealand.

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Paper provided by New Zealand Treasury in its series Treasury Working Paper Series with number 05/10.

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Length: 50 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:nzt:nztwps:05/10
Contact details of provider: Postal: New Zealand Treasury, PO Box 3724, Wellington, New Zealand
Phone: +64-4-472 2733
Fax: +64-4-473 0982
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  1. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1988. "On the mechanics of economic development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 3-42, July.
  2. Casey B. Mulligan & Xavier Sala-i-Martin, 1995. "A Labor-Income-Based Measure of the Value of Human Capital: An Application to the States of the United States," NBER Working Papers 5018, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Alan Krueger & Mikael Lindahl, 2000. "Education for Growth: Why and For Whom?," Working Papers 808, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  4. Jacob Mincer, 1958. "Investment in Human Capital and Personal Income Distribution," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 66, pages 281.
  5. Robert J. Barro & Jong-Wha Lee, 2000. "International Data on Educational Attainment Updates and Implications," NBER Working Papers 7911, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Jeong, Byeongju, 2002. "Measurement of human capital input across countries: a method based on the laborer's income," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(2), pages 333-349, April.
  7. Mireille Laroche & Marcel Mérette, . "Measuring Human Capital in Canada," Working Papers-Department of Finance Canada 2000-05, Department of Finance Canada.
  8. Cohen, Daniel & Soto, Marcelo, 2001. "Growth and Human Capital: Good Data, Good Results," CEPR Discussion Papers 3025, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  9. Benhabib, Jess & Spiegel, Mark M., 1994. "The role of human capital in economic development evidence from aggregate cross-country data," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(2), pages 143-173, October.
  10. Jones, Larry E & Manuelli, Rodolfo E, 1990. "A Convex Model of Equilibrium Growth: Theory and Policy Implications," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(5), pages 1008-38, October.
  11. Wachtel, Paul, 1997. "A labor-income based measure of the value of human capital: An application to the states of the US: Comments," Japan and the World Economy, Elsevier, vol. 9(2), pages 193-196, May.
  12. Jorgenson, D.W. & Fraumeni, B.M., 1991. "The Output Of The Education Sector," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1543, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  13. Ahlroth, Sofia & Bjorklund, Anders & Forslund, Anders, 1997. "The Output of the Swedish Education Sector," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 43(1), pages 89-104, March.
  14. Robert J. Barro, 1989. "Economic Growth in a Cross Section of Countries," NBER Working Papers 3120, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Nehru, Vikram & Swanson, Eric & Dubey, Ashutosh, 1995. "A new database on human capital stock in developing and industrial countries: Sources, methodology, and results," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 379-401, April.
  16. Daron Acemoglu, 2001. "Human Capital Policies and the Distribution of Income: A Framework for Analysis and Literature Review," Treasury Working Paper Series 01/03, New Zealand Treasury.
  17. Behrman, Jere R & Birdsall, Nancy, 1983. "The Quality of Schooling: Quantity Alone is Misleading," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(5), pages 928-46, December.
  18. Barro, Robert J. & Lee, Jong-Wha, 1993. "International comparisons of educational attainment," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 363-394, December.
  19. Paul M Romer, 1999. "Increasing Returns and Long-Run Growth," Levine's Working Paper Archive 2232, David K. Levine.
  20. Barro, Robert J & Lee, Jong Wha, 1996. "International Measures of Schooling Years and Schooling Quality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(2), pages 218-23, May.
  21. Eisner, Robert, 1989. "The Total Incomes System of Accounts," University of Chicago Press Economics Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226196381, October.
  22. Romer, Paul M., 1990. "Human capital and growth: Theory and evidence," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 251-286, January.
  23. Kyriacou, George A., 1991. "Level and Growth Effects of Human Capital: A Cross-Country Study of the Convergence Hypothesis," Working Papers 91-26, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  24. Judson, Ruth, 2002. "Measuring Human Capital Like Physical Capital: What Does It Tell Us?," Bulletin of Economic Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(3), pages 209-31, July.
  25. Wolff, Edward N., 2000. "Human capital investment and economic growth: exploring the cross-country evidence," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 11(4), pages 433-472, December.
  26. Psacharopoulos, George, 1993. "Returns to investment in education : a global update," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1067, The World Bank.
  27. Angel de la Fuente & Rafael Donénech, 2000. "Human Capital in Growth Regressions: How much Difference Does Data Quality Make?," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 262, OECD Publishing.
  28. Azariadis, Costas & Drazen, Allan, 1990. "Threshold Externalities in Economic Development," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(2), pages 501-26, May.
  29. The Treasury, 2001. "Human Capital and the Inclusive Economy," Treasury Working Paper Series 01/16, New Zealand Treasury.
  30. Ahuja, Vinod & Filmer, Deon, 1995. "Educational attainments in developing countries : new estimates and projections disaggregated by gender," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1489, The World Bank.
  31. Trinh Le & John Gibson & Les Oxley, 2003. "Cost- and Income-based Measures of Human Capital," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 17(3), pages 271-307, 07.
  32. B. F. Kiker, 1966. "The Historical Roots of the Concept of Human Capital," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 74, pages 481.
  33. Islam, Nazrul, 1995. "Growth Empirics: A Panel Data Approach," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(4), pages 1127-70, November.
  34. Arrow, Kenneth J., 1973. "Higher education as a filter," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 193-216, July.
  35. Lau, Lawrence J. & Jamison, Dean T. & Louat, Frederic F., 1991. "Education and productivity in developing countries : an aggregate production function approach," Policy Research Working Paper Series 612, The World Bank.
  36. Tao, Hung-Lin & Stinson, Thomas F., 1997. "An Alternative Measure of Human Capital Stock," Bulletins 7466, University of Minnesota, Economic Development Center.
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