Western University EconomicsWestern Social Science

Policy Briefs

The Centre for Human Capital and Productivity (CHCP) (formerly the CIBC Centre for Human Capital and Productivity), publishes several policy briefs per year on topics related to its six main research themes: early childhood, primary and secondary schooling; post- econdary education; productivity and earnings; social benefits of human capital; human capital policy; and human capital, development and growth. These briefs highlight and discuss important policy-related research findings and are written for a broad audience of policymakers, journalists, and other researchers.

If you would like to receive CHCP Policy Briefs via email or regular mail, please contact us at chcp@uwo.ca.

Policy Brief 7, February 2014

Family Support and Income-Contingent Student Loans

With three-year student loan cohort default rates of nearly 15% in the US and Canada, concerns arise that some students may be choosing not to repay their loans even when they are in a position to do so.  At the same time, there are growing concerns that some low-income borrowers in delinquency or default may be financially unable to meet their loan obligations, prompting calls for expanding income-based repayment schemes.  This brief discusses recent research that examines student loan repayment, the important role of family support in enabling repayment for many recent students, and the implications of expanding income-contingent repayment schemes for student loans.

Policy Brief 6, May 2013

Student Loan Repayment Problems

This brief discusses research using two recent Canada Student Loans Program(CSLP) surveys to determine which factors contribute to student loan delinquency and default. Of central importance are post-school earnings and family support. Roughly half of all students defaulting on their CSLP loans earned less than $10,000 per year at the time they entered default. Students with low incomes are significantly more likely to experience repayment problems if they cannot draw on financial support from their families. Other important factors include student debt levels, educational attainment and institutional choices, and beliefs about the importance of repaying student loans.

Policy Brief 5, Semptember 2012

Think Inequality is Higher in North America than in Europe? Think Again

Most studies on earnings inequality rely on earnings data from a single year to measure inequality; however, these measures need not reflect differences in lifetime earnings due to earnings mobility and employment risk. Cross-country differences in mobility and the nature of employment risk can lead to different conclusions about relative inequality across countries depending on whether single-year or lifetime earnings measures are used. This brief discusses a new methodology for investigating and comparing lifetime earnings inequality across countries and shows that while inequality measures that focus on a single year of earnings show substantially greater inequality in North America than in Europe, lifetime earnings inequality is quite similar for the U.S., Canada, France, and Germany.

See additional information on this brief and an interview with Audra Bowlus on inequality in North America and Europe.

Policy Brief 4, March 2012

The Transferability of Skills

This brief discusses the transferability of skills across jobs and occupations. Evidence suggests that displaced workers finding new employment in jobs using similar skills experience significantly smaller wage losses than those taking new jobs in occupations that utilize a vastly different set of skills. Workers find their way back to more similar jobs than would occur with random mobility, and they are increasingly finding their way back to more similar jobs in recent years.

See additional information on this brief and an interview with Chris Robinson on the transferability of skills.

Policy Brief 3, December 2011

The Impacts of Education on Crime, Health and Mortality, and Civic Participation

This brief summarizes the state of knowledge on the non-production benefits of education.  A growing body of evidence shows that education (and related education-based initiatives) can reduce crime rates, improve health, lower mortality rates, and increase political participation.

Policy Brief 2, June 2011

Optimism, College Major, and Post-Secondary Dropout

This brief discusses the role of learning about one's own ability in driving post-secondary dropout decisions and and changes in college major. New evidence shows that nearly one-half of post-secondary students who drop out of school do so because they learn that they are not as well-suited for their programs as they initially thought. Many students also leave math/science majors for similar reasons.

Policy Brief 1, January 2011

Post-Secondary Attendance, Parental Income, and Financial Aid: Comparing the U.S. and Canada

This brief discusses new evidence that parental income has a greater impact on recent post-secondary education decisions in the U.S. than in Canada. It further examines the structure of need-based financial aid in both countries and shows that differences in aid policies do not easily explain the observed differences in post-secondary educational attendance patterns.