For best experience please turn on javascript and use a modern browser!
You are using a browser that is no longer supported by Microsoft. Please upgrade your browser. The site may not present itself correctly if you continue browsing.

Human Capital

Human Capital

The Human Capital programme is an empirically driven research programme which relies on microeconometric techniques to study important microeconomic issues in the areas of labour economics, economics of education, family economics and development economics.

Particular emphasis of the Human Capital programme is paid to the identification of causal mechanisms, the analysis of existing policies and policy changes on a variety of microeconomic outcomes, and the design and implementation of experiments to carefully evaluate policy interventions and their microeconomic consequences.

Microeconomic models play an important role in understanding individual behaviour in many economic areas. That is, predictions taken from microeconomic theories are often used to explain and understand individual economic circumstances, how differences between individuals can possibly account for differences in economic outcomes, and to what extent policies can influence individual economic circumstances. But predictions are not easily verified and possibly false, with huge consequences for (the development of) microeconomic theory, policy and policy design. It is therefore crucial to test predictions of individual economic behaviour with careful empirical work, using the most rigorous methods in applied microeconometrics. 

Research groups

We are an applied microeconometrics group, covering various themes of research, with scope for individual research projects, internal and external joint work and cooperation and more formal cooperations. There are currently two more formally defined research groups: TIER and AIID. These share the same ambition to perform research at the highest academic standards on issues with high societal relevance: education, labour, economic development of poor nations.

  • Top Institute for Evidence Based Education Research

    The education and labour economists in the Human Capital group are integrated into Top Institute for Evidence Based Education Research (TIER), since 2008. Henriette Maassen van den Brink, director of TIER Amsterdam, saw the successful blend of scientific quality with policy relevance recognised through a large grant from NWO. TIER is now funded by the Ministry of Education (and matching by participating universities), but the grant is fully administered by NWO. The Institute is joint with RU Groningen and RU Maastricht. Research focuses on the effectiveness of policy interventions in education.

    TIER has ambitious goals: it wants to contribute to the improvement of the quality of education in the Netherlands by promoting the evidence based approach as a guiding principle in education policy and practice. It intends to accomplish this by developing (cost) effective education interventions that are grounded in scientific research and scientific insights. The research is funded through the NWO and must comply with the NWO formulated rules of evaluation.

    The aim of the institute is to conduct excellent scientific research, to operationalise the results of this research and to put the results at the disposal of education policy and practice. The institute wants to develop knowledge of evidence based education that can be applied by:

    1. the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, in policy preparation and evaluation.
    2. the educational practice - such as teachers and educational institutions - in the allocation of means and when making educational choices.
    3. parents and students, when choosing a school or training. TIER aims to be an element that binds research, practice and policy in the field of education.
  • Amsterdam Institute for International Development

    The Amsterdam Institute for International Development (AIID) is a joint initiative of the University of Amsterdam and the VU University Amsterdam. It is a multidisciplinary research network with a strong focus on generating evidence to improve the design of policies to reduce poverty. Menno Pradhan and Jacques van der Gaag are AIID researchers who do research on human capital and health and impact evaluation of sector-wide programmes.

Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Labour Studies

Members of the human capital group are also associated to the Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Labour Studies (AIAS). AIAS is an institute for multidisciplinary research and teaching at the University of Amsterdam. Founded in 1998, it brings together the University’s expertise in labour studies from the Faculties of Law, Social and Behavioural Sciences, Economics and Econometrics, and Medicine. Combining law, economics, sociology, psychology and occupational health studies, AIAS seeks to foster not only the results of their combined effect, but also to add value to the individual disciplines. Multidisciplinarity is strengthened by AIAS fellows: colleagues in and outside of the University of Amsterdam who are associated with AIAS to contribute to teaching or research at the Institute.


If you have a question related to the Human Capital programme, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Prof. dr. E.J.S. (Erik) Plug

Programme Director