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Closing the Gap: A Research Agenda to Drive Human Capital Investment

December 3, 2018

Washington, DC and Online

  • Human capital—health, knowledge, and skills—is a major determinant of an individual’s lifetime income, and hence of a country’s per capita income. The launch of the Human Capital Index presents a transformative opportunity to persuade governments to prioritize investments in human capital above and beyond their usual focus on physical capital. Ensuring these investments are informed by the large and growing body of research on human capital is therefore critical.

    In this talk, World Bank Research Manager Adam Wagstaff will present a smorgasbord of completed, ongoing, and nascent research on human capital. The focus will be on research linked to the five indicators underpinning the Human Capital Index (HCI)—stunting among under-fives, the under-five mortality rate, learning among school-age children, years of schooling to age 18, and the odds of a 15-year old surviving to age 60. Adam will focus on four bodies of work: research that pioneers new measurement approaches; research that establishes and explains key facts about human capital accumulation; research that examines the effectiveness of and returns to specific programs aimed at building human capital; and blue-skies research that trials innovative approaches to building human capital. The talk will also set out some ideas for monitoring global progress on human capital that complement the Bank’s official HCI.

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    Adam Wagstaff

    Research Manager

    Adam Wagstaff is Research Manager of the Human Development and Public Services team in the Development Research Group. He holds a DPhil in economics from the University of York and, before joining the Bank, was a Professor of Economics at the University of Sussex. He was an associate editor of the Journal of Health Economics for 20 years and has published extensively on a variety of aspects of the field, including health financing and health systems reform; health, equity and poverty; the valuation of health; the demand for and production of health; efficiency measurement; and illicit drugs and drug enforcement. Much of his recent work has been on health insurance, health financing, vulnerability and health shocks, and provider payment reform.


    Asli Demirgüç-Kunt

    Director of Research

    Asli Demirgüç-Kunt is the Director of Research in the World Bank. After joining the Bank in 1989 as a Young Economist, she has held different positions, including Director of Development Policy, Chief Economist of Financial and Private Sector Development Network, and Senior Research Manager, doing research and advising on financial sector and private sector development issues.


    Annette Dixon

    Vice President, Human Development

    Annette Dixon is the Vice President for Human Development at the World Bank Group, overseeing the Global Practices for education; health, nutrition, and population; gender; and social protection and jobs. She was previously the Bank’s Vice President for the South Asia Region. In managing the World Bank’s engagement in South Asia to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity, Annette led relations with eight countries, including India—the institution’s biggest client. She also oversaw lending operations and trust-funded projects worth more than $10 billion a year.

  • The Policy Research Talks showcase the latest findings of the research department and their implications for World Bank operations. The monthly event facilitates a dialogue between researchers and operational staff so that we can challenge and contribute to the World Bank's intellectual climate and re-examine conventional wisdom in current development theories and practices. Read More »

Event Details

  • Time: 12:00 - 1:30PM ET
  • Location: MC 13-121