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Research and innovation

Quarterly research and innovation literature review: Research, innovation and human capital


Publication date
27 October 2021
Directorate-General for Research and Innovation
Related department
Directorate-General for Research and Innovation


Human capital policies represent a widely recognised tool for enhancing long-term innovation, production of knowledge and economic growth. The analysis of human capital is a historical stepping-stone for economic theory, with Paul Romer and Robert Lucas developing endogenous growth theory in the nineties. In these new growth theories, technological change is made endogenous, explained within the model as the product of efforts by researchers and inventors who respond to economic incentives.

Furthermore, to meet the twin transition objectives, the EU will require all collective knowledge and cutting edge technologies that its innovation ecosystem can provide. It is therefore not only crucial to pay attention to the researchers and inventors of today, but also to nurture the talents of tomorrow.

The selected papers cover recent empirical evidence on the role of education for R&I, from the development of human capital, the production of knowledge by highly skilled individuals, to the interaction between the different entities that compose the innovation ecosystem. Furthermore, in light of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the presented literature review highlights how and which education policies can prepare for a strong and inclusive recovery.

The first five reviewed papers investigate how COVID-19, school closures and online learning affected human capital formation, raising important elements of concern related to inequality and long-term productivity. The last five papers focus on the role of STEM education in fostering innovation and patents production, as well as how the job market environment and institutions can foster inventors and researchers to innovate.

Contributors: Alessio Mitra, Océane Peiffer-Smadja and Julien Ravet.


27 OCTOBER 2021
Quarterly research and innovation literature review (Issue 2021/Q3)