Singapore has emerged as the top country for developing human capital, surpassing other 156 countries surveyed in the World Bank’s Capital Index.
Launched at the start of the IMF-World Bank meetings in Bali, the 2018 Human Capital Index was part of World Bank’s initiative to help economies improve their investment in people. It measures how well countries are developing their human capital based on five indicators, including the probability of survival to age five, a child’s expected years of schooling, test scores, adult survival rate, as well as the stunting rate among children.
According to the report released on Thursday (Oct 11), Singapore scored the highest for education quality based on tests among school-aged children, at 98 out of 100, in 2016. Singapore’s effort to invest in its human capital will allow children born today to fulfil 88 per cent of their potential to be productive when they grow up, given that they get a full education and enjoy good health. The country’s human capital index (HCI) measure is higher for girls than boys, Straits Times reports.
World Bank Group president Kim Jim Yong called for economies to enhance their human capital, which is the sum of the knowledge, skills and health, among other things, that people gain throughout their lives. The report noted that about 56 percent of all children born today will lose more than half of their potential lifetime earnings if governments do not take appropriate steps to prepare for a healthy and educated population.
Dr. Kim said that policies to build human capital are some of the smartest investments that countries can make to boost long-term, inclusive economic growth. He also pointed out a quarter of children globally are likely to fail to meet their full potential because of malnutrition and diseases that lead to stunting cases.
“If a country’s children grow up unable to meet the needs of the future workplace, that country will find itself incapable of employing its people, unable to increase its output, and utterly unprepared to compete economically,” Dr Kim added.
He also took note the success of Vietnam, among the best performers in South-east Asia, as an economy that manages to improve its educational outcome through increased expenditure – following the paths taken by other Asian peers, such as China, South Korea, Japan and Hong Kong.
Vietnam took the 48th plaace in the index, with its population set to achieve 67 percent of their future economic potential. Indonesia, however, only ranked 87th, and it will see its population realise 53 percent of their potential.
Dr Kim said that Indonesia is one of the “early adapters” of advice suggested by the World Bank to climb the index, pointing out a 20 per cent allocation of spending in the state budget for education. However, he said that Indonesia still needs to work on some issues, such as reducing stunted growth among children.