Role of Human Capital in Economic Development

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Kenya is one of the less Developed countries that are endowed with relatively good levels of resources and labor. However, there are still a lot to be done to tap those resources into viable productivity and industrialization levels. One way of achieving this is by maximizing the use of both physical and human capital. In or case we shall consider human capital. Human capital, according to Adam Smith refers to the acquired and useful abilities of all the inhabitants or members of the society. The acquisition of such talents by the maintenance of the acquirer, during his education, study or apprenticeship, always costs a real expense, which is a capital fixed and realized, as it were in his person. Those talents, as it makes a part of his fortune, so do they likewise to that of the society to which he belongs. The improved dexterity of a workman may be considered in the same light as the machine or instrument of trade which facilitates and bridges labor and which, though it costs a certain expense, repays that expense with a profit. Therefore, the greatest improvement in the productive power of labor and the greater part of the skill, dexterity and judgment with which it is anywhere directed or applied, seem to have been the effects of division of labor. Other types of capital being equally important, they can be provided with ease if the private sector and the government, through public expenditure can use the existing human capital to develop and widen the capital stock base, both in domestic production and production of industrial goods. Human capital is therefore a vital factor of production, seemingly the most prominent of all the other types of Capital.  

Owing to increasing population growth in Kenya, labor is not a hindrance to development. In fact, people export their workforce to the United States of America through the famous Green card lottery. There is more than this in economic development process. Explaining why less developed countries are poor, Robert L. Heil Broner, the author of the book, ‘The Economic Problem, 1970’, said that these are poor countries because they are traditional societies, that is, societies that have developed neither the mechanisms of command nor of the market by which they might launch into sustained process of economic growth. He stressed that as he examines the less Developed Countries he gets a feeling that he is encountering in the present the anachronistic counterparts of the static societies of antiquity. He considered agricultural and industrial capital not to be the only reason for low productivity and economic development. To him, an endemic cause of low par capita output and income lies in the prevailing social attitudes that are vital determinant of human capital development. Typically, people of underdeveloped economy have not learned the economic attitudes that foster rapid industrialization. Instead of disciplined workers they are reluctant and untrained workers. Instead of product-minded businessmen, they are trading-oriented merchants. It’s therefore very necessary to inculcate human capital into the economy of less developed countries.  

What exactly is the role of human capital and other social variables in economic growth and development of an economy? In the traditional neoclassical growth models developed by Robert Solow and Trevor Swan in the 1950s, the output of an economy grows in response to larger inputs of capital and labor (all physical inputs). Non economic inputs such as human capital or human health variables have no function in these models. However, the endogenous growth models developed by Paul Romer (1980) broadened the concept of capital to include the human capital.

The advent of endogenous growth models with human capital (providing externalities) is argued to have enhanced the understanding of the mysteries of rapid and long sustainable high growth...
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