Education and human capital

Education shows great resilience to shocks—labor demand for highly skilled workers has remained high in all kinds of economic conditions. Public policy for education and human capital includes increasing the economic and social returns on education, fostering greater educational attainment, encouraging social and economic mobility, and providing vocational education, training, and lifelong learning.

  • The importance of informal learning at work Updated

    On-the-job learning is more important for workers’ human capital development than formal training

    Andries De Grip, March 2024
    Although early human capital theory recognized the relevance of workers’ experience, its focus was on education and formal training. More recent studies show that much of the performance of newly hired workers is driven by learning by doing or learning from peers or supervisors in the workplace. Descriptive data show that workers learn a lot from the various tasks they perform on the job. Informal learning at work seems to be relevant for all age groups, although it is more meaningful for younger workers’ performance. Informal learning is far more important for workers’ human capital development than formal training courses.
  • Multiple job-holding: Career pathway or dire straits? Updated

    Moonlighting responds to economic needs, but can generate new skills and careers

    Multiple job-holding, or “moonlighting”, is an important form of atypical employment in most economies. New forms of work, driven by digitalization, may enable its future growth. However, many misconceptions exist, including the belief that multiple job-holders are only low-skilled individuals who moonlight primarily for financial reasons, or that the practice increases during economic downturns. Recent literature highlights the significant links between moonlighting and job mobility. Multiple job-holding allows for the development of workers’ skills and spurs entrepreneurship.
  • Rethinking the skills gap Updated

    Better understanding of skills mismatch is essential to finding effective policy options

    Evidence suggests that productivity would be much higher and unemployment much lower if the supply of and demand for skills were better matched. As a result, skills mismatch between workers (supply) and jobs (demand) commands the ongoing attention of policymakers in many countries. Policies intended to address the persistence of skills mismatch focus on the supply side of the issue by emphasizing worker education and training. However, the role of the demand side, that is, employers’ rigid skill requirements, garners comparatively little policy attention.
  • Instruction time and educational outcomes

    The quality of instruction and the activities it replaces determine the success of increased instruction time

    Increasing instruction time might seem a simple way to improve students' outcomes. However, there is substantial variation in its effects reported in the literature. When focusing on school day extensions, some studies find no effects, while others find that an additional hour of daily instruction significantly improves test scores. A similar pattern arises when examining the effect of additional days of class. These mixed findings likely reflect differences in the quality of instruction or in the activities that are being replaced by additional instruction. Hence these elements need to be considered when designing policies that increase instruction time.
  • Female education and its impact on fertility Updated

    Additional female educational attainment generally lowers fertility, but the relationship is complex

    Jungho Kim, May 2023
    The negative correlation between women's education and fertility has been observed across regions and time, although it is now weaker among high-income countries. Women's education level could affect fertility through its impact on women's health and their physical capacity to give birth, children's health, the number of children desired, and women's ability to control birth and knowledge of different birth control methods. Each of these mechanisms depends on the individual, institutional, and country circumstances experienced. Their relative importance may change along a country's economic development process.
  • Performance measures and worker productivity Updated

    Choosing the right performance measures can inform and improve decision-making in policy and management

    Jan Sauermann, April 2023
    Measuring workers’ productivity is important for public policy and private-sector decision-making. Due to the lack of a general measure that captures workers’ productivity, firms often use one- or multi-dimensional performance measures, which can be used, for example, to analyze how different incentive systems affect workers’ behavior. The public sector itself also uses measures to monitor and evaluate personnel, such as teachers. Policymakers and managers need to understand the advantages and disadvantages of the available metrics to select the right performance measures for their purpose.
  • Evaluating apprenticeship training programs for firms

    Cost–benefit surveys of employers help design more effective training policies

    Apprenticeship training programs typically last several years and require substantial investments by training firms, largely due to the associated labor costs for participants and instructors. Nevertheless, apprentices also add significant value in the workplace. One tool to measure the costs and benefits of training for firms is employer surveys, which were first introduced in the 1970s in Germany. Such cost–benefit surveys (CBS) help to better understand a firm's demand for apprentices and to identify market failures. Therefore, CBS are an important tool for designing effective training policies.
  • Income-contingent loans in higher education financing Updated

    Internationally, there has been a student financing revolution toward income-contingent loans

    Around ten countries currently use a variant of a national income-contingent loans (ICL) scheme for higher education tuition. Increased international interest in ICL validates an examination of its costs and benefits relative to the traditional financing system, time-based repayment loans (TBRLs). TBRLs exhibit poor economic characteristics for borrowers: namely high repayment burdens (loan repayments as a proportion of income) for the disadvantaged and default. The latter both damages credit reputations and can be associated with high taxpayer subsidies through continuing unpaid debts. ICLs avoid these problems as repayment burdens are capped by design, eliminating default.
  • The labor market in New Zealand, 2000−2021 Updated

    Employment has grown steadily, unemployment is low, and the gender gap and skill premiums have fallen

    David C. Maré, August 2022
    New Zealand is a small open economy, with large international labor flows and skilled immigrants. After the global financial crisis (GFC) employment took four years to recover, while unemployment took more than a decade to return to pre-crisis levels. Māori, Pasifika, and young workers were worst affected. The Covid-19 pandemic saw employment decline and unemployment rise but this was reversed within a few quarters. However, the long-term impact of the pandemic remains uncertain.
  • How to attract international students? Updated

    Studying abroad benefits the students, the host country, and those remaining at home

    Arnaud Chevalier, May 2022
    In knowledge-based economies, attracting and retaining international students can help expand the skilled workforce. Empirical evidence suggests that open migration policies and labor markets, whereby students can remain in the host country post-study, as well as good quality higher education institutions are crucial for successfully attracting international students. Student migration can positively affect economic growth in both sending and receiving countries, even though migrants themselves reap most of the gains, mainly through higher earnings.
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