Human Capital Across the Life Cycle


Course Objective

After following this course, the student is able to understand the
concept of Human Capital, its origins early in life, how it is
influenced by individual decision making concerning education and health
and how it relates to productivity, growth and health care consumption
and the distribution of health.
This course is an introduction to the economics of human capital with an
emphasis on applied microeconomic theory and empirical analysis.

After successfully completing this course, students will be able to:

- demonstrate an understanding of the theories of investment in
schooling and training, the production of health and theories on
discrimination in the labor market (Bridging Theory and Practice -
- demonstrate knowledge of the interplay between health, education, work
and income across the life cycle (Bridging Theory and Practice -
- apply modern economic theories in the field of education and health to
practical policy problems (Bridging Theory and Practice - Application);
- demonstrate an understanding of how technological change,
globalization and institutional forces shape labor market performance
(Bridging Theory and Practice - Knowledge and application);
- make well founded decisions about the appropriate methods to assess
the returns to education and assess discrimination (Academic and
Research Skills);
- make well founded decisions about the appropriate methods to assess
the effect of health on labor market outcome and vice versa
(Academic and Research Skills);
- discuss critically existing empirical evidence (Research skills);
- perform own empirical analysis by means of a replication exercise
(Academic and Research skills, Broadening your horizon).

Course Content

Human capital can be viewed as capital derived from investments in
education and health. Both factors determine the returns on the labor
market (work outcomes, income and wealth) and in general individual
well-being. The joint distribution of education, work, income and health
evolves across the life cycles of individuals as they grow from
childhood, where they make educational choices, to adolescence and when
they enter the labor market till prime ages and later when they enter
the phase from working age into retirement. In the final stage the
larger part of health care is consumed.

The course starts with an overview of some stylized facts concerning the
returns to education, labour and health. Next, we introduce the most
important microeconomic models of investment behavior in the field of
education, labor (search) and health. Throughout the course, theories
are confronted with empirical papers that test these theories and their
consequences for public policy in the area of education, income, health
and work. Finally, we address the issue of how to appropriately test for
discrimination and evaluate the effectiveness of public and social
policies in the field of education, income, health and work.

Teaching Methods


Method of Assessment

Written (closed book) exam – Individual assessment.
Presentation of papers in groups of two students.
Paper in groups of two students.

Entry Requirements

Microeconomics I.


Chapter 12 from Barr, The Economics of the Welfare State, Oxford
University Press, Edition 4 (or higher).

Chapters 4, 8, 10 & 11 from "Cahuc P., Carcillo S. and A. Zylberberg.
2014. Labor Economics (2nd edition). MIT press".

Selected papers, to be distributed via Canvas.

Recommended background knowledge

Microeconomics II.

General Information

Course Code E_EBE3_HCALC
Credits 6 EC
Period P5
Course Level 300
Language of Tuition English
Faculty School of Business and Economics
Course Coordinator dr. S. Dobbelaere
Examiner dr. S. Dobbelaere
Teaching Staff dr. T.J. Galama

Practical Information

You need to register for this course yourself

Last-minute registration is available for this course.

Teaching Methods Seminar, Lecture
Target audiences

This course is also available as: