Role of Human Capital in Economic Development

Our research topic is to analyze the relationship between human capital and economic growth. Economic growths important determinant are physical capital, labor and human capital. But from the recent trend of world economic growth, we found that human capital is playing a key role by taking the place of material capital and labor. Human capital is intimately related to growth as it increases the nation’s capacity to produce goods and services. It also creates more job opportunities and lifts the living standards of a country through increase in income levels.

Human capital deals with individuals who learn special skills and knowledge trough education at school, training and experience in the labor market (Barro et al, 2000). However, Economic growth refers to the increase in the amount of the goods and services produced by an economy over time (Jones, 1996). As a result of their skills and education, productivity level would increase because educated workers would work at a faster pace than less educated workers

Human capital refers to the knowledge and skills embodied in people. It is widely recognized that some types of human capital are obtained through experience or interactions with others and with formal education. Human capital is intimately related to the economic growth. Masses believe that capital means a bank account, stock or factory plants in the industrial area. These are also a type of capital that they are assets that increase income and other useful outputs over long periods of time. But such tangible forms of capital are not the only type of capital.

There is another very important type of capital known as human capital. It implies to Schooling, a computer training course, expenditures on medical care, and lectures on the virtues of punctuality, expertise and honesty. It is because these factors are also contributing to raise earnings, improve health, or over all increasing the economic growth rate. Therefore, economists regard spending on training, medical care, education and so on as investments in human capital. They are called human capital because people cannot be separated from their knowledge, skills, health, or values in the way they can be separated from their financial and physical assets.

The notion of human capital arose out of the awareness that physical capital alone was not enough to explain long term growth. Many social indicators such as educational enrolments and life expectancy became combined in a common term: human capital. Often, human capital is implicitly referred to as formal and informal education. Yet, it can also contain factors such as the costs of raising children, health costs, and ability.


Economic growth depends on many factors such as the quantity and quality of education, how education can impact on fertility rate, government policies to sustain incentives for human capital, a reduction in the cost of technology adoption and increase expenditure on education. Education and other aspects of human capital is important to economic growth because more educated individuals tend to have higher employment rate and earnings and produce more output relative to those who are less educated.

Education is considered as a positive investment that allows individuals to be equipped with knowledge and skills that can improve their employability and productive capacities that would lead to higher earnings in the future and hence, economic growth. Moreover, it has shown that it is not only the amount of formal education that matters, but also that the type of knowledge possessed by labor in a region also plays a key role in determining the level of economic activity.

There are various type of

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education having there own effect on the economic growth such as skilled based education primary education specialized education higher education and education to develop entrepreneur skills, the more the entrepreneurs are in a country, more the business will flourish in that country. As a result, the country’s economy will rapidly grow.

The continuing growth in per capita incomes of many countries during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries is partly due to the expansion of scientific and technical knowledge that raises the productivity of labor and other inputs in production. And the increasing reliance of industry on sophisticated knowledge greatly enhances the value of education, technical schooling, on-the-job training, and other human capital.

New technological advances clearly are of little value to countries that have very few skilled workers who know how to use them. Investment in human capital is long term as compare to the investment on physical capital. It is also a continuous process unlike investment on physical capital. But the outcome of human capital is much greater than other investment. In past decades the healthy human capital countries grew faster than the one where these factors were missing. Economic growth closely depends on the synergies between new knowledge and human capital, which is why large increases in education and training have accompanied major advances in technological knowledge in all countries that have achieved significant economic growth.

The outstanding economic records of Japan, Taiwan, and other Asian economies in recent decades dramatically illustrate the importance of human capital to growth. We are going to support the positive correlation of human capital and economic development by reference on some previous conducted researches.

Maudos, Pastor and Serrano aimed to find the role of human capital in the productivity gains of OECD countries form 1965-1990. There research supports the correlation of human capital and economic growth. Their findings suggest a positive the link between human capital and economic development. They concluded that human capital not only is an additional input in the production formula but also is a catalyst for technical change.

Thus, the estimation of a stochastic translog production function shows a statistically significant product elasticity of human capital, and non-parametric techniques confirm its significance as input. Xu, Lai, and Qi came to conclusion in the research conducted in 2008 that human capital is contributing towards Total factor production (TFP), which is contributes directly to economic development. They concluded that human capital had lower impact in technologically strong provinces compared technologically backward provinces.

We have seen that human capital have an impact on the growth rate. But there is various composition of human capital. Various composition of human capital has different impact on the economic growth. There can be different composition of human capital agriculture human capital (AGR); high-tech human capital (TECH); business and service human capital (SERVICE); the humanities human capital (HUMAN); and health and welfare human capital (HEALTH). These divisions are done by Chun-li Tsai, Ming-Cheng Hung, and Kevin Harriott in their research conducted in 2010. They concluded that, secondary education is a large contributor to economic growth in developing countries than it is in developed countries.

However, they find tertiary education also plays an important role in economic growth equally for both developing and developed countries. The findings also indicate high-tech human capital is positively correlated with economic growth. It indicates that a country should promote greater enrolment in high-tech fields of study, that is, the percentage of tertiary graduates in science, engineering, mathematics and computer science is an important indicator of high-quality labor-force. It provides skilled and specialized labor to work with hi technology.

Daren A. Conrad conducted a research on four Caribbean countries; he divided them in two groups according to the nature of the development. he concluded that countries with high development status in Caribbean which are Barbados and Trinidad & Tobago. The human capital contribution in these countries is high towards economic development in all sectors. However, in less developed countries which includes (Guyana and Jamaica), the human capital contribution is low in tertiary sector because in these countries the human capital is not very much developed because of lack of resources on education compared o developed countries. In the end this research paper does give concrete reasons of dependency of economic development on human capital.

Teixeira and Fortuna (2004) in their research paper made a conclusion that the main estimation results emphasize that human capital stock and internal innovation capability (internal stock of knowledge) are important in explaining Portuguese productivity during the period of study which is from 1960 to 2000.

Nazneen ahmed and Joseph French had shed light on the casual relationship between growth rate and human capital in developing countries such as Bangladesh. Their studied the Bangladesh economic growth in relation with its human capital. Bangladesh, like other developing nations, depends upon production processes that are largely labor intensive. according to Nazneen Ahmad and Joseph French, These results indicates that increases in human capital have a propensity to follow increases in per capita GDP and at the current state of the economy, emphasis on secondary and higher secondary education should be a priority for Bangladesh.

Secondary and higher secondary education are imperative because of the labor-intensive nature of the Bangladeshi economy. Again this research gives importance to the composition of human capital and type of education imparted to the labor. Skills acquired from secondary and higher secondary levels of education are in utmost demand and as their results show, contribute considerably to economic growth in Bangladesh.

Musila Jacob and Belassi Walid in their research emphasized on the fact that government expenditure on the human capital can be an important determinant to analyze this relationship of human capital and economic growth. Government expenditure on education would also have an impact on the economic growth. Moreover investment on growth can be represented as the investment on the human capital. As government will spend more on educating the human capital, more will be the skilled labor to positively contribute towards the economic growth of the country. Author investigated that the increase the government expenditure on the education would increase the economic growth. That the average education expenditure per worker positively correlates with the economic growth.

LR test indicate that education expenditure in the model are weakly exogenous, suggesting therefore, that they drive economic growth. Government expenditure on education in the long term investment to increases the economic growth of the country. This research clearly proves the point that how human capital contributes to economic growth.

Ruth Judson in 1998 tried to find answers to two questions. First, does investment in education help growth; second, does the allocation of investment in education matter? He came to conclusion that if allocation is the done in organized manner in different levels of education, then countries can gain more from human capital. He is trying to make a point that that human capital speeds up the economic development so it is necessary that one develops them in best possible manner by allocating appropriate investment in different levels of education. He says that basic education is most important as it lays foundation for further education, so it can be concluded that, countries should emphasis greatly on basic education in order to gain maximum for human capital as human capital is catalyst for economic growth.

“Education is empowerment. It is the key to establishing and reinforcing democracy, and development, which is both sustainable and humane. It is also the only avenue for a lasting peace founded upon the mutual respect and social justice. Indeed, in a world in which creativity and knowledge play an ever-greater role, the right education is nothing less than the right to participate in the modern world.”(UNESCO, 1998).

Vladmir tries to prove this relation by using two models. He uses Lucas model and Nelson-Phelps approach. The Lucas model establishes that the driving force behind economic growth is the rate of accumulation of human capital. On the other hand, the Nelson–Phelps approach considers that high levels of human capital increase the capacity of individuals to innovate (by discovering new technology) or to adopt new technology. Thus, again it can be said that human capital is one of the major pillar of economic development.

Abel J.R and Todd M.Gabe in their research prove empirically the dependence of economic growth on human capital. By using educational attainment as an indicator of human capital, it is found that a 1 percentage point increase in the proportion of residents with a college degree is associated with about a 2% increase in US metropolitan area GDP per capita.


Through above discussion it can be clearly claimed that there is a positive relationship between human capital and economic development. They both are directly proportional to each other; weak human capital would slow down the economic growth. On the other hand, strong human capital would accelerate the economic growth. Human capital is very important to nation’s development and it cannot be neglected. Neglect of human capital would negatively impact the economic growth. Furthermore, it can be said that it is important to invest on basic education as it lays foundation for other important skills and further education. Human capital is a resource on which countries build and it should be polished as economic growth is dependent on skilled human capital.

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