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This essay examines the conception of human resource economics (HRE) that shaped the career of Vernon M. Briggs Jr. It probes the history of economic thought to describe the intellectual roots of HRE. It explores how HRE emerged to address the issues of economic growth, stabilization, and efficiency, as well as how it contributes to the public discourse on matters of social equity, economic opportunity, and government regulation. It explains the clash between human capital theory and HRE. And it outlines Briggs’s five dimensions of human resource development (HRD), which is his term for HRE that manifests itself in public policy. Although Briggs developed his conceptualization decades ago, each dimension continues to warrant our attention.


Suggested Citation
Whalen, C. J. (2009). The human resource economics of Vernon Briggs. Retrieved [insert date] from Cornell University, ILR school site:

Required Publisher Statement
Copyright held by the author. Final version forthcoming in C. J. Whalen (Ed.), Human resource economics and public policy: Essays in honor of Vernon M. Briggs Jr. Kalamazoo, MI: W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.