Human capital as a key driver in economic development in developing economies

Premised upon historic facts, the notion of the high level of emigration from which Guyana suffered over the last few decades — which still persists, albeit to a lesser degree when compared to the mass emigration recorded about two decades ago – doubtless strongly correlates to the underdeveloped status of Guyana’s socio-economic strata.
More importantly to note, however, is that such conclusive inference is arrived at mainly from the crime and violence situation in Guyana; especially within its historic context, wherein Guyana had experienced a unique kind of crime and violence situation, described as politically motivated crimes, which usually occurred during periods of national elections.
The major consequence on socioeconomic outcomes for Guyana, resulting from the crime and violence situation, is that this has been the primary causation — both historically and presently, perhaps to a lesser extent — of a high level of emigration and, by extension, leading to a great degree of ‘brain drain’ in Guyana. In other words, a large number of the Guyanese educated population has migrated to other countries, and this phenomenon has indisputably served as a key contributor towards Guyana remaining largely underdeveloped; particularly the socio-economic strata, and especially against the backdrop of the history of politically motivated crimes in Guyana’s context.
In 2015, for example, the immigrant population of Guyana was 2.01 per cent of the total resident population. On the other hand, outward migration from Guyana up to the same period was a whopping 451,139. In 2015, 37.03 per cent of all citizens lived outside their country of origin. During the past two decades or so, an unprecedented massive emigration of people out of Guyana to North America had occurred. An average of 6,080 people per year emigrated between 1969 and 1976, increasing to an average of 14,400 between 1976 and 1981.
Figures for 1976 showed 43 per cent of emigrants went to the United States, 31 per cent to Canada, 10 per cent to Britain, and 9 per cent to the Caribbean. Deteriorating economic and political conditions in the 1980s led to even sharper increases in the emigration rate. Unofficial estimates put the number leaving the country in the late 1980s at between 10,000 and 30,000 annually. Many of these emigrants were middle class professionals who opposed Government’s policies, thus there was a significant and permanent loss of vitally skilled individuals.
Moreover, in reference to the last Labour Force Survey done in 2018, specifically statistics showing the percentage share of working-age population by level of education completed, it was shown that 10 per cent of the labour force has no schooling, while about 50 per cent (the highest number) of the workforce has only up to primary education. Upper secondary education comprised just 20 per cent, post-secondary accounted for just about 5 per cent; while Bachelor’s, Masters and Doctoral Equivalents accounted for less than 3 per cent of the labour force.
These interesting facts and figures therefore further strongly corroborate the contentions presented within this article, and note the importance of the level and quality of human capital to propel economic development of any country. Against this backdrop, human capital accumulation has long been considered an important factor in economic development. Empirical work suggests that human capital levels directly influence the rate of domestically produced technological innovation (Romer, 1990 a). Moreover, the stock of human capital affects the speed of adoption of technology from abroad, as shown by Nelson & Phelps (1966).
The significance of this alternative model in terms of its empirical implications is that human capital stocks in levels, rather than their growth rates, now play a role in determining the growth of per capital income. Much of the motivation for human capital policies in developing countries is the possibility of providing economic growth that will raise the levels of incomes in these countries. The focus on alleviating poverty in developing countries relates directly to economic growth, because of the realisation that simply redistributing incomes and resources will not lead to long-term solutions of poverty.
Within this context, it is emphasised that human capital is an integral part of a country’s development, and economic growth has human capital as an important factor. Recent research has shown that tertiary education has significantly affected the growth of economies, instead of secondary education. Workable policies should be put in place to bring about an overall economic growth. Expenditure on health and public education should be utilised effectively and efficiently, so that the country would experience quality health care services and a quality educational system.