Closing the gap: A research agenda to drive human capital investment

Human capital—health, knowledge, and skills—is a major determinant of an individual’s lifetime income, and hence of a country’s per capita income. The launch of the Human Capital Index presents a transformative opportunity to persuade governments to prioritize investments in human capital above and beyond their usual focus on physical capital. Ensuring these investments are informed by the large and growing body of research on human capital is therefore critical. In this talk, World Bank Research Manager Adam Wagstaff will present a smorgasbord of completed, ongoing, and nascent research on human capital. The focus will be on research linked to the five indicators underpinning the Human Capital Index (HCI)—stunting among under-fives, the under-five mortality rate, learning among school-age children, years of schooling to age 18, and the odds of a 15-year old surviving to age 60. Adam will focus on five bodies of work: research that pioneers new measurement approaches; research that establishes and explains key facts about human capital accumulation; research that examines the effectiveness of and returns to specific programs aimed at building human capital; and blue-skies research that trials innovative approaches to building human capital. The talk will also set out some ideas for monitoring global progress on human capital that complement the Bank’s official HCI.

The event will be livestreamed through this link