OECD Development Centre Working Papers

The OECD Development Centre links OECD members with developing and emerging economies and fosters debate and discussion to seek creative policy solutions to emerging global issues and development challenges. This series of working papers is intended to disseminate the OECD Development Centre’s research findings rapidly among specialists in the field concerned. These papers are generally available in the original English or French, with a summary in the other language.

English, French

Virtuous Circles? Human Capital Formation, Economic Development and the Multinational Enterprise

In recent years, academics and policy makers have emphasised the role of human capital formation in economic development. By creating human capital, countries become more attractive to private investment, both domestic and foreign. And through such investment, countries grow and prosper.

Yet the empirical evidence in support of this theory remains elusive. While foreign direct investment (FDI) has multiplied in many countries around the world since the 1980s, its effects on growth are uncertain. Why is that the case?

In this paper I argue that political economy pathways exist that may lead countries away from sustained growth. In countries that lack well-developed capital and education markets, many otherwise qualified citizens may be denied the basic skills they need in order to contribute fully to the nation’s economic development. As societies become divided, they become more conflicted, and this conflict dampens growth, irrespective of the level of foreign direct investment ...


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