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Estimates of Human Capital in Canada: The Lifetime Income Approach

  • Wong, Ambrose
  • Gu, Wulong

This paper produces an estimate of market-based human capital investment and stock for Canada over the period from 1970 to 2007 based on the lifetime income approach and compares it with that of physical and natural capital investment and stock. It adopts the methodology developed by Jorgenson and Fraumeni, and estimates human capital stock as the expected future lifetime income of all individuals. Human capital investment is estimated as changes in human capital stock due to the addition of new members of the working age population arising from the rearing and education of children and the effect of immigration on human capital. The main findings are as follows: 1. The volume of aggregate human capital rose at an annual rate of 1.7% in Canada for the period 1970 to 2007, and most of the growth is due to the increase in the number of individuals in the working-age population. The rising education level of the Canadian population is also a significant contributing factor to the growth in human capital. 2. The compositional effects of aging of the Canadian population (a movement to a population that is older on average) reduced human capital growth by 0.6% per year over the period 1980 to 2007, while the rising education level increased human capital growth by 0.7% per year over the period. 3. Human capital stock on a per capita basis increased at 0.9% per year for the period 1970 to 1980, due to the rising education attainment during the period. After 1980, human capital stock per capita was virtually unchanged due to two offsetting factors: rising education level which increased human capital stock and the compositional effects of population aging, which reduced human capital stock. 4. The value of human capital investment and stock exceeds the value of physical capital investment and stock, and the ratio of human capital investment and stock to physical capital investment and stock declined over time. In 2007, human capital stock is about four times as large as physical capital stock while investment in human capital is about two times the magnitude of investment in physical capital. 5. The levels of human capital investment and stock estimates are sensitive to the assumptions made about expected future income growth and the rate used to discount the future income when calculating human capital, but the growth of the quantity and price of human capital investment and stock is not sensitive to the assumptions in these areas.

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Paper provided by Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch in its series Economic Analysis (EA) Research Paper Series with number 2010062e.

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Date of creation: 16 Jun 2010
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Handle: RePEc:stc:stcp5e:2010062e
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