Investing in Human Capital

Date: Wednesday, December 23, 2015.

Venue: Gulberg, Lahore.

Time: 2:30PM- 4:00PM

Center for Economic Research in Pakistan, Institute of Development and Economic Alternatives, Consortium for Development Policy Research in collaboration with Centers for Learning on Evaluation and Results (CLEAR) South Asia is held a seminar in the Lahore Economic Development Research Seminars (LEDRS) series:

“Expectations and Human Capital Investment”

Dr. Basit Zafar


Schooling decisions – such as whether to enroll in college or not, or choice of college major – are made under uncertainty, in particular uncertainty about future realizations of schooling-related outcomes such as earnings. The conventional approach has been to assume that individuals are rational forecasters and have complete information when making educational choices. There remains, however, little empirical evidence to support these assumptions. We collect novel survey data on subjective expectations regarding educational choices from US college students and household heads with two main goals: (1) to understand the extent to which individuals’ expectations are biased, and (2) to investigate the determinants of educational choices. We also conduct information experiments that provide individuals with accurate schooling-related information (on returns and costs), and present findings on how they influence decision-making. We collect similar subjective data from Pakistani college students to understand university choice. We conclude with policy implications of our findings, and avenues for future research.

About the speaker

Basit Zafar is a Research Officer in the Microeconomic Studies Function at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (and a Visiting Researcher in the Department of Economics at Princeton University during 2015-2016). He is an applied microeconomist, with interests in the area of education, labor, and household finance. His work studies how individuals make decisions under uncertainty, particularly in the context of human capital accumulation. The core of his research has focused on using subjective expectations data, directly elicited from respondents, to make inference on behavior (such as the choice of college major) and on understanding how individuals form expectations. His work employs a disparate set of empirical methods and techniques, and has been published in leading journals. Basit holds a Ph.D. from Northwestern University, awarded in 2008, and a B.Sc. from California Institute of Technology.

About the LEDRS Seminars

The LEDRS seminars are a series of informal academic seminars with two primary purposes. First, they aim to allow Lahore-based and development economics researchers, including early-career researchers, to present work in progress in an informal setting and get constructive feedback and ideas from a larger group of colleagues beyond their own institutions. Second, they will provide a forum for visiting development economics researchers to present their research, and thus facilitate continuing exposure for Lahore-based researchers to current research topics and methods. The seminar series will also aim to strengthen links among researchers in Lahore and between Lahore-based and visiting researchers, and to generate more extensive discussion of policy implications of research and brainstorm channels for policy impact.