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Harry J. Holzer

This chapter reviews recent empirical evidence on skill-building among low-income youth and adults in the United States. It focuses on skills and credentials that are well-rewarded in the labor market and the different means of attaining them. It reviews benefits and limitations of college attendance for disadvantaged youth and adults. It also considers alternatives to higher education (high-quality career and technical education, models of work-based learning and sectoral training for youth or adults. A caveat is that good post-secondary education and workforce programs will mostly not make up for poor K-12 academic preparation. The need for other policies to strengthen early education outcomes, or to provide incentives to and assist workers whose skills will remain very poor, remains in effect.

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Yoonsoo Park

This study evaluates the effect of attending autonomous private high schools in Korea on educational outcomes such as achievement test scores and satisfaction levels of students. Using birth order of students as an instrumental variable for their school choice, it finds some evidence showing that autonomous private high schools are more effective in providing greater levels of student satisfaction than regular high schools. However, it finds little evidence of an effect on achievement test scores.

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Susan M. Dynarski

This chapter provides an economic perspective on policy issues related to student debt in the United States. It lays out the economic rationale for government provision of student loans and summarizes time trends in student borrowing. It describes the structure of the US loan market, which is a joint venture of the public and private sectors and then turns to three topics that are central to the policy discussion of student loans: whether there is a student debt crisis, the costs and benefits of interest subsidies, and the suitability of an income-based repayment system for student loans in the US. It discusses the gaps in the data required to fully analyze and steer student-loan policy.

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WooRam Park

This chapter examines the effect of human capital on technology intensity in the manufacturing sector among OECD countries. It explores the heterogeneous effect of educational attainment by education level. Using OECD data, it does not find a significant impact of human capital on technology intensity in the manufacturing sector. Both improvement and the initial level of human capital seem to have a limited effect on the share regarding value-added and employment of technology intensive industries among the entire manufacturing sector.

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Jeong Pyo Choi

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Human Capital Policy

Reducing Inequality, Boosting Mobility and Productivity

Edited by David Neumark, Yong-seong Kim and Sang-Hyop Lee

This timely book evaluates international human capital policies, offering a comparative perspective on global efforts to generate new ideas and novel ways of thinking about human capital. Examining educational reforms, quality of education and links between education and socio-economic environments, chapters contrast Western experiences and perspectives with those of industrializing economies in Asia, focusing particularly on Korea and the USA.
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Hisam Kim

This chapter examines intergenerational social mobility and evaluates the role of education in its rise and fall in Korea. It draws on data from a “Happiness Study” undertaken by the Korea Development Institute, data from the Korean Labor and Income Panel Study (KLIPS) and comparative international data from the Osaka University Global Twenty-first Century Center of Excellence Program. The study explores the growing pessimism among Koreans about their children’s upward mobility, their mobility expectations for the next generation, the growing divide in education and policy directions for enhancing social mobility. The focus on the role of education in the rise and fall of social mobility in this chapter suggests several policy directions. A loss of talent should be prevented by early intervention with pro-mobility education policies. More attention is needed for the less educated, to prevent them from becoming NEETs: the young who are not in education, employment or training (NEETs) and who have been increasing in proportion to the population. Finally, multiple routes to success must be opened beyond the narrowly defined route through higher education to good jobs. Public resources must be allocated to people who will deploy their talents and energy in pursuit of innovation, production and job creation.

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Yong-seong Kim

Intra-generational mobility has a profound impact on social cohesion as well as on the well-being of the next generations. Focusing on the trends of income mobility, this chapter finds that income in Korea became less mobile during 2001-11. Income mobility, which used to be higher for the “less educated” than the the “more educated” in the early 2000s, has sharply declined. A decomposition approach shows that income inequality is driven by the permanent component, as opposed to the transitory one, making it harder for income to be mobile.

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David Neumark, Yong-seong Kim and Sang-Hyop Lee

Education is a subject of never-ending public attention, and that attention has contributed to numerous reforms. One starting point in the search for better human capital policy is a careful review of past accomplishments and shortcomings of the education system, as well as future challenges facing it. Moreover, for most people the goals of human capital policy encompass the efficiency and effectiveness of policy, as well as its contribution to equity and social and economic mobility. The topics of this volume therefore delve into the quality of education, the effectiveness of public school systems and means of improving them, the competitiveness and accountability of higher education, and linkages between education and labor market outcomes. The authors focus on Korea and the United States. The Korean education system can be credited for much of the remarkable economic growth achieved by the country in recent decades, during its transformation into an industrialized country. The economy during this period is regarded as a textbook case of taking a leap from being a marginal player in the global economy to being a leading one. Many factors must be taken into account to explain this transition. Among them, the country’s education system, well designed and effective for its time, played an essential role in achieving both industrialization and social mobility. In terms of the quantity and quality of its human capital, Korea has made astonishing progress since regaining its independence in the late 1940s. With the rapid expansion of enrollment in both primary and secondary schools, the literacy rate increased from about 20 percent in 1945 to almost 100 percent today. The proportion of the population with tertiary education is the highest among the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries. The expansion of education was accompanied by a soaring academic record. Recent international achievement tests, such as the OECD’s Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), have ranked Korea at the top in mathematics, reading and sciences.

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Sungmin Han

The aim of this study is to improve a college loan program in Korea by investigating an impact of the program. It considers a simple theoretical model to compare each level of human capital investment among various financial aid programs. It estimates the effect of the program on students’ academic achievements and the characteristics of defaulters. Empirical results suggest that the recipients of the government’s Income Contingent Loan (ICL)program show better academic performance than recipients of the General Student Loan (GSL) program. With regard to default, the probability of delinquency of students who receive a loan for living expenses and tuition becomes higher than that of students who receive a loan for tuition. These findings suggest that the ICL program is more effective in reducing the student’s financial burden, and the repayment system should be improved. Nonetheless, a rapid change of the GSL to the ICL may cause a financial burden to the government budget. Thus, a gradual change of student loan policy is required.