News and Research 328

Human Capital and Climate Change

Addressing climate change requires individual behavior change and voter support for pro-climate policies, yet surprisingly little is known about how to achieve these outcomes. This paper estimates causal effects of additional education on pro-climate outcomes using new compulsory schooling law data across 16 European countries. It analyzes effects on pro-climate beliefs, behaviors, policy preferences, and novel data on voting for green parties—a particularly consequential outcome to combat climate change. Results show a year of education increases pro-climate beliefs, behaviors, most policy preferences, and green voting, with voting gains equivalent to a substantial 35% increase.

Education has significant impacts on nearly all pro-climate measures; an additional year of education leads to an increase (percentage points) in

Relative to status quo rates, these impacts are non-trivial, translating into:

Climate change poses existential risks to the planet and generates trillions of dollars in annual costs to society. While changing pro-climate beliefs, behaviors, policy preferences, and voting is difficult, a promising approach is through more education.

Europe in particular is a context where climate change is receiving substantial attention, including efforts such as the European Green Deal, yet education remains an underutilized lever. Moreover, while educational attainment has expanded dramatically in recent decades, the median school reform law in 2020 in Europe guaranteed only 10 years of schooling, a full two years below a complete primary and secondary education of 12 years. These gaps are even more dramatic in the developing world; in sub-Saharan Africa educational reform laws only guarantee 8 years of schooling on average. Expanding access to education has traditionally been believed to play a transformative role in the economic and social well-being of societies – it now also appears to play a vital role in the battle against climate change.

Azerbaijan needs to invest more and better in human capital to grow further | While Azerbaijan was one of the top global improvers on human capital in the past decade, it still lags behind countries of the same income level in human development outcomes, according to a new World Bank report. The report, Azerbaijan Human Capital Review –  prepared with support from the European Union, and presented today to representatives of the Azerbaijani Government, development partners, civil society and media – indicates that achieving high income status can only happen with a well-educated, healthy, and socially-protected population. “There are many ways that Azerbaijan can improve the situation going forward”, said Fadia Saadah, World Bank Director for human development in Europe and Central Asia, “Ensuring equitable access to quality education, health, social protection, and employment services for the poorest and most vulnerable people would help set the country on track to ensure citizens and communities reach their full potential.”

How the Kyrgyz Republic is promoting professional learning communities for teachers | Kyrgyz teachers collaborating during a session with the Mentor Training Program, a professional development initiative. Photo: Public Relations Office, American University of Central Asia. There is overwhelming consensus from high-performing education systems that effective professional development systems leverage the potential of teachers as drivers for improving education quality. In these systems, most often in advanced economies, teachers work with one another in teams to grow professionally and design increasingly effective experiences for their students. But such a community can be developed in emerging economies too. A professional development initiative in the Kyrgyz Republic that we worked on provides a useful example for laying foundations for professional learning communities of teachers that other developing countries could adopt.

We must not lose a generation | A year after the Russian invasion, Ukraine mayors ask for investment to rebuild schools, educate children and repair a wide range of city services. Children are in danger of falling way behind, and consequently the country will suffer for a long time, says Solomakha, the mayor of Myrhorod. “We must not lose a generation now,” he says. “If we do not educate this generation of children during the current war, then in five to 10 years we will have many other problems. Children must have certain knowledge and skills, in order to build Ukraine in the future.”

Prospects for Children in the Polycrisis: A 2023 Global Outlook | As the world is forced to confront the interconnectivity of risks, trends and events, will we finally prioritize holistic solutions to improve prospects for children? This report outlines the polycrisis in which the world finds itself — multiple, simultaneous shocks with strong interdependencies, intensified in an ever-more integrated world — along with eight trends that will shape child rights and well-being in the coming year. The trends explored are: 1. The pandemic’s harms will continue to be counted — but reforms of health architecture and medical breakthroughs offer hope for children…

COVID‐19 and Long‐Term Economic Growth | Human capital losses, due to school closures as part of the lockdown policy, will have the most detrimental effect on economic growth in the long run, while the effects of COVID‐induced morbidity, mortality and employment losses will be temporary and relatively small in the long run. Remedying human capital destruction is an imperative measure for mitigating the negative long‐term economic impact of the pandemic.

Cognitive and Socioemotional Skills in Low-Income Countries Measurement and Associations with Schooling and Earnings | This paper assesses the reliability and validity of cognitive and socioemotional skills measures and investigates the correlation between schooling, skills acquisition, and labor earnings. It is found that: (a) more years of schooling are correlated with higher cognitive and socioemotional skills; (b) labor earnings are correlated with cognitive and socioemotional skills as well as years of schooling; and (c) the earnings-skills correlations depend on respondents’ migration status. The magnitudes of the correlations between schooling and skills on the one hand and earnings and skills on the other are consistent with a widespread concern that such skills are underproduced in the schooling system.

Economics of minority groups: Labour-market returns and transmission of indigenous languages in Mexico | This study demonstrates a series of links between minority language skills, their economic return, and transmission across generations among Indigenous Mexican groups.

The year 2023 is the 50th anniversary of the publication of the book, Returns to Education: An International Comparison (Studies on Education, Elsevier, Amsterdam) on January 1, 1973, by George Psacharopoulos (assisted by Keith Hinchliffe). The book led to a revolution in empirical analyses of the returns to education in many developing countries. Psacharopoulos brought together the diverse results generated by 53 studies of rates of return to education in 32 countries. Setting the stage for work that was to follow, the book showed that the average social payoff to education is substantially higher in less developed countries than in those countries that are most advanced. Within each country the rate of return to education tends to fall as the educational level rises. In comparing the social rate of return to human capital with that available on physical capital, it was discovered that in less developed countries the rate of return to human capital is much higher, while in advanced countries it is approximately the same. This suggests that less developed countries should attempt to stimulate economic growth by pumping more resources into human capital, particularly at the primary education level.