Personal assets

Human Capital: How what you know shapes your life
In today’s knowledge economy, the value of learning is becoming ever more apparent. Whether you’re an aged grandmother in Kenya, a 55-year-old manager in Kyoto, or a 25-year-old graduate in Kansas, the economic value of your education is rising.
Not only can people no longer afford to stop learning just because they leave school or university, but they also must cultivate the right type of learning. This is because education is, in economic terms, an asset. The skills it imparts can make a difference for individuals, communities and whole economies. So, as with any asset, it pays to look after your “human” capital.Parents the world over and in all social classes nag their children to study hard and get good grades in the hope that someday they will reap the rewards of all that work. Behind that advice lies a common concern that is set out in Human Capital, namely, that the years we spend in education generate a form of capital that has the potential to produce a long-term return, just like money in a bank or a piece of land.The author, Brian Keeley, warns that while human capital can sometimes be dismissed as an irritatingly functional concept, ignoring it has its perils. Amid rising concern about the potential impact on societiesof income inequality, the book shows how we need to regard poverty as less an absence of money and more an absence of the resources–especially human capital–that are key to social and economic well-being.This is the first in a new series of books called OECD Insights. Books in the series bring together existing OECD research on key global issues, but use non-technical and non-specialist language with the aim of bringing the organisation’s work to a wide audience. References: ISBN-13 9789264029088©OECD Observer N°260, March 2007

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