Work Stream 2: Human Capital, Earnings and Well-Being


Lead: Prof. Fiona Carmichael

This work stream encompasses new perspectives on human capital and explores the contribution of the component parts of human capital to productivity and growth. These ideas  are  developed in the context of an ageing and nationally diverse workforce with wide differentials in human capital investment and the rewards to such investments, inequality in the development of  human capital development , diverse skill needs  and differential access to on-the-job training.




The Big Questions

  1. What are the best tools for evaluating workers and their contributions to organisations?
  2. Is there a clear relationship from work to income and to wellbeing? 
  3. How do we measure productivity in non-standard work e.g. non-manual work, caring work?
  4. What kinds of incentive schemes are effective and appropriate for motivating workers?
  5. How should we be paid to do work that is valued by society as ‘good’? 
  6. How can industry be motivated to invest in workers?

Illustrative project area: Differential access to Human capital development and its impact on work, wealth and wellbeing


To derive a meaningful definition of human capital that captures its component parts (human capital plus) and use it to investigate the determinants of differential access to human capital development and its distributional outcomes.


  • To determine the components of Human Capital as a concept measuring acquisitions that potentially raise productivity in work and enhance access to employment
  • To investigate the characteristics and factors that distinguish the bottom and top 20% of  achievers in term of their  human capital acquisition (the 20:20 group) and examine how they are more or less able to develop human capital?
  • To investigate the cumulative advantages of human capital acquisition and cumulative disadvantage of human capital depreciation e.g. due to time out of work
  • To examine whether early differential access to human capital development is compensated for by on-the-job training?
  • To determine how access to human capital development is impacted and potentially constrained by job entry/access restrictions in specific occupations?


This study will provide new insights on differential access to human capital development and its consequences by identifying and bringing together the components parts of human capital  that hitherto have been considered only in isolation. For example the positive impacts of individual investments in health have not been considered as a complement to other components of human capital such as investments in education and training. Nor has the contribution of experience or non-traditional human capital acquisition been effectively analysed. Questions around differences in human capital development and depreciation over the lifecourse, from school through to work and retirement have not been adequately addressed.


  • Phase 1: data extraction and interpretation in relation to components of HC+, concept definition and relationships between components from qualitative HR surveys by organisations
  • Phase 2: Quantitative analysis of large National and International data sets to formalise relationships (e.g. New OECD data on job tasks).
  • Phase 3: workplace based case studies