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Rethinking the economic properties of human capital: is human capital a private good?

AutorCañibano, Carolina ; Woolley, Richard
Fecha de publicación2013
CitaciónAHE 2013
ResumenThis paper questions the conceptualisation of human capital as an aggregative commodity that mainstream economics provides and argues there are developments in the literature that provide the bases for interesting alternative developments. The paper reviews the neoclassical conceptualisation of knowledge and human capital's economic properties to point out certain inconsistencies. Human capital is conceptualised by certain neoclassical authors as bearing the properties of rivalry and appropriability that characterize private goods. Other authors however, point to its external effects and increasing returns, which make it non-rival and non-excludable to a certain extent. We argue that in neoclassical economics, the properties of human capital are addressed from two different perspectives that are not made explicit in the theory: that of the >owner> and that of the >buyer>. Additionally the perfect rivalry and excludability of (scientific) human capital claimed by mainstream economics is put into question by building on contributions from sociology and evolutionary economics. Since the deployment of scientific human capital is highly context dependent as well as dependent on the availability of complementary assets, its perfect tradability (therefore transferability) in labour markets is under question. We argue that far from being perfectly private or just subject to some >external effects>, scientific human capital is a >distributed> good whose economic properties are highly variable depending on the networks in which it is embedded. The discussion closes by proposing a list of fundamental characteristics of embodied knowledge conceptualised from an evolutionary economics perspective.
Identificadoresdoi: http://hetecon.net/division.php?page=ahe_conferences&side=conference_archives&sub=conference_2013
Aparece en las colecciones: (INGENIO) Comunicaciones congresos
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