The Oxford Biblical Studies Online and Oxford Islamic Studies Online have retired. Content you previously purchased on Oxford Biblical Studies Online or Oxford Islamic Studies Online has now moved to Oxford Reference, Oxford Handbooks Online, Oxford Scholarship Online, or What Everyone Needs to Know®. For information on how to continue to view articles visit the subscriber services page.

Related Content

More Like This

Show all results sharing these subjects:

  • Social sciences
  • Economics


Show Summary Details


human capital

Quick Reference

The present discounted value of the additional productivity, over and above the product of unskilled labour, of people with skills and qualifications. Human capital may be acquired through explicit training, or on-the-job experience. Like physical capital, it is liable to obsolescence through changes in technology or tastes. The training needed to create human capital has to be paid for. Training for firm-specific human capital, which does not improve workers' earning ability outside the firm, can be provided by employers. General or vocational human capital, which can be used by other employers, will increase workers' outside earning power, so employers are in general reluctant to provide this type of training. The cost of creating human capital thus falls mostly on individuals or their families, charitable institutions, or the state. See also firm-specific human capital; general human capital.

Subjects: Social sciencesEconomics

Reference entries

View all reference entries »