OECD Economics Department Working Papers

Working papers from the Economics Department of the OECD that cover the full range of the Department’s work including the economic situation, policy analysis and projections; fiscal policy, public expenditure and taxation; and structural issues including ageing, growth and productivity, migration, environment, human capital, housing, trade and investment, labour markets, regulatory reform, competition, health, and other issues.

The views expressed in these papers are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the OECD or of the governments of its member countries.

English, French

A new macroeconomic measure of human capital with strong empirical links to productivity

This paper calculates new measures of human capital. Contrary to the existing literature, they are based on realistic rates of return to education, which are allowed to vary substantially across countries and to some extent over time. The new measures perform well in regression analysis explaining productivity across OECD countries and over time. In OECD samples, coefficient estimates are broadly consistent with the private returns underlying the construction of the new measures of human capital. In a wider sample of countries, most estimates imply additional positive social returns.


Keywords: returns to education, OECD, human capital, productivity, mean years of schooling
JEL: E24: Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics / Consumption, Saving, Production, Investment, Labor Markets, and Informal Economy / Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity; I26: Health, Education, and Welfare / Education and Research Institutions / Returns to Education; I20: Health, Education, and Welfare / Education and Research Institutions / Education and Research Institutions: General
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