Canada Research Chair in Human Capital and Inequality
Tier 2 - July 2006, Renewed October 2011 - October 2016
Tier 1 - July 2016 - June 2023
Social Sciences and Humanities
In Pursuit of Skills Over a Lifetime
Behind words like “productivity” and “human capital” lie real people who spend their lives schooling and working to achieve a satisfying life. Our government can help this process along by developing effective education and labour market policies.
Providing Canada’s government with sound research on which to base its policies is one of the goals of Lance Lochner, Canada Research Chair in Human Capital and Inequality. Lochner is an economist who studies skill formation, earnings inequality, and intergenerational mobility, among other areas of economic importance. He hopes to make a positive contribution to government initiatives that support the development of skills over a lifetime.
Recent studies have suggested that for every dollar spent on early childhood interventions, such as pre-school, up to nine dollars in benefits are reaped by society. Yet, little is known about why some families choose to make substantial investments in their children, while others do not. Lochner believes the answer to this puzzle is relevant to those policies that are aimed at improving the skills of our young.
Lochner also regards postsecondary enrolment and completion patterns as relevant to our educational and labour policies. His research includes the development of economic theories that reflect Canada’s borrowing opportunities as well as repayment and default incentives. Few existing theories incorporate the full set of incentives and constraints faced by potential college and university students.
In addition, Lochner is exploring the extent to which people acquire skills by making costly investments in skills via job training, learning-by-doing, and job search activity, leading to better and better job matches. Estimates suggest that post-school learning accounts for nearly a quarter of all skills acquired in a lifetime. Understanding why some people experience little wage improvement while others see their wages double over their careers is central to the government’s design of income and employment assistance programs.
Source: Canada Research Chairs program, Government of Canada