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About The Human Capital Project


What is Human Capital and What is the Human Capital Project?

Human capital consists of the knowledge, skills, and health that people accumulate throughout their lives, enabling them to realize their potential as productive members of society. We can end extreme poverty and create more inclusive societies by developing human capital. This requires investing in people through nutrition, health care, quality education, jobs and skills.

Why now? The cost of inaction on human capital development is going up. Without human capital, countries cannot sustain economic growth, will not have a workforce that is prepared for the more highly-skilled jobs of the future, and will not compete effectively in the global economy.

What is the World Bank’s response? The World Bank Group announced the Human Capital Project in 2017. Work is underway, with a new Human Capital Index launched in October 2018 at the Annual Meetings held in Bali Indonesia. Ministers from close to 30 pilot countries presented early ideas on how to accelerate investments, followed by a rare opportunity for their staff to work across regions and sectors in person. The number of countries actively participating in the project has grown to over 40 as of 2019.

How will the Human Capital Project have an impact? The Human Capital Project is expected to help create the political space for national leaders to prioritize transformational human capital investments. The objective is rapid progress towards a world in which all children arrive in school well-nourished and ready to learn, can expect to attain real learning in the classroom, and are able to enter the job market as healthy, skilled, and productive adults.

Where can I learn more? Learn more about human capital by reading through the stories, blogs, and frequently asked questions (FAQ) on our main website. Watch the recoding of the Human Capital Summit, follow updates from the 2019 World Development Report The Changing Nature of Work, and join others on Twitter and Facebook talking about why we must #InvestinPeople

Pillars of the Human Capital Project

This effort is about building human capital in all countries. In order to get there, we must work on several levels. 

The Human Capital Index

The Human Capital Index quantifies the contribution of health and education to the productivity of the next generation of workers. Countries can use it to assess how much income they are foregoing because of human capital gaps, and how much faster they can turn these losses into gains if they act now. The index is explained in The Human Capital Project Booklet. Learn more.

Measurement & Research

Credible measurement of education and health outcomes is critical locally, nationally, and globally. Within countries, measurement leads to insights into what works and where to target resources. It also increases policy makers’ awareness of the importance of investing in human capital, creating momentum for action. Globally, comprehensive measurement sheds light on the differences between countries, and spurs demand for investments in people.

Country Engagement

The Human Capital Project will help countries tackle the worst barriers to human capital development, using a “whole of government” approach. Work has begun to support over 40 countries who have expressed keen interest and will extend to more countries in the coming months. In addition, a number of “Human Capital Champions”—world leaders, thought leaders, celebrities, and others—have signed on to advocate for investments in the next generation. Click below to watch the Human Capital Summit, attended by thousands, that took place in Bali on October 11, 2018. Watch Summit.