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Human capital

Does welfare to work make any more sense than tax and spend?

By David Willetts   February 2001

The award of the Nobel prize for economics can capture a key moment in political economy. The award to Milton Friedman was the final seal of respectability for the monetarist account of inflation. The 1999 award to Robert Mundell raised topical questions about the euro. And the most recent award to James Heckman is another such moment. He is one of the world’s leading labour market economists, who has questioned the conventional wisdom about investing in human capital popularised in America by Robert Reich and in Britain by Gordon Brown. Heckman reaches his sceptical conclusions not on the basis of…

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