Human Capital

Human capital is the stock of competencies, knowledge, social and personality attributes, including creativity, embodied in the ability to perform labor so as to produce economic value. It is an aggregate economic view of the human being acting within economies, which is an attempt to capture the social, biological, cultural and psychological complexity as they interact in explicit and/or economic transactions. Many theories explicitly connect investment in human capital development to education, and the role of human capital in economic development, productivity growth, and innovation has frequently been cited as a justification for government subsidies for education and job skills training.

It was assumed in early economic theories, reflecting the context in which the secondary sector of the economy was producing much more than the tertiary sector was able to produce at the time in most countries – to be a fungible resource, homogeneous, and easily interchangeable, and it was referred to simply as workforce or labor, one of three factors of production (the others being land, and assumed-interchangeable assets of money and physical equipment). Just as land became recognized as natural capital and an asset in itself, and human factors of production were raised from this simple mechanistic analysis to human capital. In modern technical financial analysis, the term "balanced growth" refers to the goal of equal growth of both aggregate human capabilities and physical assets that produce goods and services.

The assumption that labour or workforces could be easily modelled in aggregate began to be challenged in 1950s when the tertiary sector, which demanded creativity, begun to produce more than the secondary sector was producing at the time in the most developed countries in the world.

Accordingly much more attention was paid to factors that led to success versus failure where human management was concerned. The role of leadership, talent, even celebrity was explored.

Today, most theories attempt to break down human capital into one or more components for analysis – usually called "intangibles". Most commonly, social capital, the sum of social bonds and relationships, has come to be recognized, along with many synonyms such as goodwill or brand value or social cohesion or social resilience and related concepts like celebrity or fame, as distinct from the talent that an individual (such as an athlete has uniquely) has developed that cannot be passed on to others regardless of effort, and those aspects that can be transferred or taught: instructional capital. Less commonly, some analyses conflate good instructions for health with health itself, or good knowledge management habits or systems with the instructions they compile and manage, or the "intellectual capital" of teams – a reflection of their social and instructional capacities, with some assumptions about their individual uniqueness in the context in which they work. In general these analyses acknowledge that individual trained bodies, teachable ideas or skills, and social influence or persuasion power, are different.

Management accounting is often concerned with questions of how to model human beings as a capital asset. However it is broken down or defined, human capital is vitally important for an organization's success (Crook et al., 2011); human capital increases through education and experience. Human capital is also important for the success of cities and regions: A 2011 study from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York examined how the production of university degrees and R&D activities of educational institutions are related to the human capital of metropolitan areas in which they're located.

In 2010, the OECD (the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development) encouraged the governments of advanced economies to embrace policies to increase innovation and knowledge in products and services as an economical path to continued prosperity. International policies also often address human capital flight, which is the loss of talented or trained persons from a country that invested in them, to another country which benefits from their arrival without investing in them.

Studies of structural unemployment have increasingly focused on a mismatch between the stock of job-specific human capital and the needs of employers. In other words, there is increasingly a recognition that human capital may be specific to particular jobs or tasks and not general and readily transferable. Recent work has attempted to improve the linkages between education and the needs of the labor market by linking labor market data to education loan pricing.

Read more about Human CapitalBackground, Origin of The Term, Competence and Capital, Marxist Analysis, Importance of Human Capital, Cumulative Growth of Human Capital, Debates About The Concept, Mobility Between Nations, Intangibility, Portability, Risk

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Famous quotes containing the words capital and/or human:

    Capital is money, capital is commodities.... By virtue of it being value, it has acquired the occult ability to add value to itself. It brings forth living offspring, or, at the least, lays golden eggs.
    Karl Marx (1818–1883)

    Every human being, my dear, must thus be viewed according to what it is good for, for none of us, no not one, is perfect; and were we to love none who had imperfections, this world would be a desert for our love.
    Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826)