John Tomer recently published what looks like an interesting approach to human capital, entitled Integrating Human Capital with Human Development: The Path to a More Productive and and Humane Economy (Dec 2015).
According to the description:
“For the most part, human capital theory emphasizes human cognitive development and the acquisition of knowledge and skills that enable enhanced productivity and earnings. In light of recent research finds, particularly concerning neurodevelopment and early childhood development, it is becoming apparent that this standard version of human capital theory has a far too limited conception of human capabilities and how they are created…. [This book] shifts the focus of human capital theory to give full consideration to intangible, non-cognitive aspects of learning.”
At the Eastern Economic Association meetings held in D.C. last weekend, John Nye of George Mason presented on “Biology, Human Capital, and Achievement” that relates to Tomer’s theme.
In Nye’s paper, he reported how prenatal hormonal levels of testosterone could be correlated with relative finger lengths (2nd and 4th fingers) in adults. These, in turn, could be correlated with school GPA scores more than a decade later, after controlling for the usual other suspects.
The biological story that explains some human success is still in its infancy, and may ultimately turn out to be swamped by environmental factors (parental upbringing and socialization, for example). Yet it is an interesting and important foray, provided it does not lead to the dehumanization of the person as merely a collection of hormones, responding like a rat to a stimulus.