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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 Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research in its series JCPR Working Papers with number 154.

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Date of creation: 08 Feb 2000
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wop:jopovw:154
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  1. Paul T. Decker & Walter Corson, 1995. "International Trade and Worker Displacement: Evaluation of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Program," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 48(4), pages 758-774, July.
  2. 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.
  3. Currie, Janet & Thomas, Duncan, 1995. "Does Head Start Make a Difference?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(3), pages 341-64, June.
  4. Carneiro, Pedro & Heckman, James J., 2003. "Human Capital Policy," IZA Discussion Papers 821, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Arulampalam, W. & Robin A. Naylor & Jeremy P. Smith, 2002. "University of Warwick," Royal Economic Society Annual Conference 2002 9, Royal Economic Society.
  8. 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.
  9. Ann P. Bartel, 1991. "Productivity Gains From the Implementation of Employee Training Programs," NBER Working Papers 3893, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  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. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. repec:fth:prinin:366 is not listed on IDEAS
  18. 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.
  19. James Heckman & Neil Hohmann & Jeffrey Smith, 1998. "Substitution and Dropout Bias in Social Experiments: A Study of an Influential Social Experiment," UWO Department of Economics Working Papers 9819, University of Western Ontario, Department of Economics.
  20. Eric A. Hanushek, . "The Evidence on Class Size," Wallis Working Papers WP10, University of Rochester - Wallis Institute of Political Economy.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
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