The Economics of Human Capital - ECON5820

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2023 to 2024.


This course examines the economic relevance of human capital. It begins by defining and categorizing different types of human capital, and then considers the economic importance of human capital both to individuals and to society. The course then proceeds to explore the connections between human capital and the labour market, as well as social outcomes such as crime. Finally, it will discuss the challenges faced in identifying a causal effect of human capital on individual and social outcomes. Specific consideration will be given to how econometric techniques can be used to obtain causal effects.

The course will also study how human capital is formed and how it can be influenced by policy intervention. It will consider the effects of specific policy interventions on human capital development, drawing on examples from developing and developed countries.


Contact hours

Total contact hours: 29 hours
Private study hours: 121
Total study hours: 150


This module is optional for all Single and Joint Honours programmes in Economics.
This module is not available to students across other degree programmes in the University.

Method of assessment

Online Test (10%)
Essay (1000 words) (10%)
Examination (2 hours) (80%)

Reassessment Instrument: 100% exam

Indicative reading

Sloan, F. and C-R. Hsieh (2012), 'Health Economics', MIT Press.
Borjas, G. (2016), 'Labor Economics', McGraw Hill.
Sloane, P., Latreille, P. and N. O'Leary (2016), 'Modern Labour Economics', Routledge.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

By the end of this module you will be able to:

* demonstrate knowledge and understanding of human capital.
* apply microeconomic concepts and principles to the acquisition of human capital.
* identify the consequences of market failure and their impact on human capital development.
* understand the private and social effects of human capital.
* recognise the process of human capital formation and the role of policy intervention.
* understand the challenges and methods involved in identifying and measuring human capital outcomes.


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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