Human Capital

Topics: Human capital, Capital, Labor Pages: 8 (2654 words) Published: August 17, 2011
Human capital is the stock of competences, knowledge and personality attributes embodied in the ability to perform labor so as to produce economic value. It is the attributes gained by a worker through education and experience. [1] Many early economic theories refer to it simply as workforce, one of threefactors of production, and consider it to be a fungible resource -- homogeneous and easily interchangeable. Other conceptions of this labor dispense with these assumptions. Contents

1 Background
2 Origin of the term
3 Competence and capital
4 Marxist analysis
5 Debates about the concept
6 Mobility between nations
7 Classification
8 Risk
9 See also
10 Notes
11 References
12 External links

Justin Slay defined four types of fixed capital (which is characterized as that which affords a revenue or profit without circulating or changing masters). The four types were: 1.useful machines, instruments of the trade;

2.buildings as the means of procuring revenue;
3.improvements of land;
4.the acquired and useful abilities of all the inhabitants or members of the society. Adam Smith defined human capital as follows:
“Fourthly, of 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 they make a part of his fortune, so do they likewise that of the society to which he belongs. The improved dexterity of a workman may be considered in the same light as a machine or instrument of trade which facilitates and abridges labor, and which, though it costs a certain expense, repays that expense with a profit.”.[2] Therefore, Smith argued, the productive power of labor are both dependent on the division of labor: "The greatest improvement in the productive powers of labour, and the greater part of the skill, dexterity, and judgement with which it is any where directed, or applied, seem to have been the effects of the division of labour". There is a complex relationship between the division of labor and human capital. [edit]Origin of the term

A. W. Lewis is said to have begun the field of Economic Development and consequently the idea of human capital when he wrote in 1954 the "Economic Development with Unlimited Supplies of Labour." The term "human capital" was not used due to its negative undertones until it was first discussed by Arthur Cecil Pigou: "There is such a thing as investment in human capital as well as investment in material capital. So soon as this is recognised, the distinction between economy in consumption and economy in investment becomes blurred. For, up to a point, consumption is investment in personal productive capacity. This is especially important in connection with children: to reduce unduly expenditure on their consumption may greatly lower their efficiency in after-life. Even for adults, after we have descended a certain distance along the scale of wealth, so that we are beyond the region of luxuries and "unnecessary" comforts, a check to personal consumption is also a check to investment.[3] The use of the term in the modern neoclassical economic literature dates back to Jacob Mincer's article "Investment in Human Capital and Personal Income Distribution" in The Journal of Political Economy in 1958. Then T.W. Schultz who is also contributed to the development of the subject matter. The best-known application of the idea of "human capital" in economics is that of Mincer and Gary Becker of the "Chicago School" of economics. Becker's book entitled Human Capital, published in 1964, became a standard reference for many years. In this view, human capital is similar to "physical means of production", e.g., factories and machines: one can invest in human capital (via education, training, medical...
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