RISE Research Director: Thoughts on the Human Capital Index


Image of Katie Cooper

Katie Cooper

RISE Directorate

Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford

Here at RISE we were excited for the launch of the World Bank's human capital index (HCI), which directly incorporates student learning into its measure of the contribution of health and education to productivity. The index combines five indicators: child survival, school enrolment, quality of learning, healthy growth, and adult survival, into a measure of human capital a child born today could expect to attain by age 18 (per country). 

In a piece published on Devex this week, 2 Things the World Bank's Human Capital Index Gets Right on Education, RISE Research Director Lant Pritchett applauds the indexes’ inclusion of learning outcomes, and the recognition that  "schooling ain't learning." He also notes that "spending ain't investment" and to invest in human capital means more than "business as usual." To this point, the index doesn't measure inputs, it measures outputs; so, if higher spending does not lead to increased learning, it doesn't count as investment in human capital.

Pritchett explains that the call to "invest in human a deep challenge to reorient education systems from a focus on just more years of schooling to a coherent focus on learning. It’s a call to destroy the complacency that spending alone will make a dent. To be an ‘investment,’ spending has to have impact."


2 things the World Bank's human capital index gets right on education” was written by RISE Research Director Lant Pritchett and published on 22 October 2018 on the Devex website.

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