Higher education, human capital, and regional dynamics in Southern Europe

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Although the term “human capital” has remote historical roots, being already widespread in the writings of the founding fathers of economic analysis, it was during the second half of the twentieth century that an increasing debate around human capital emerged among scholars. The increasing relevance of human capital for economic growth was also associated with the role of technology and its impact in enhancing the demand for more and better qualified workers. However, the capacity of societies to take advantage of those investments has been found to be more complex and uncertain than it was initially portrayed. A more recent line of research started recognizing the potential role of human capital also at the regional level. In this chapter we aim at understanding the role of human capital on regional convergence for Southern Europe countries, with particular emphasis in recent empirical studies. We discuss the role of human capital in the framework of growth convergence theories and the issue of human capital migration as a potential factor influencing regional disparities in Europe. Then we focus on an important component of human capital formation—the role of higher education institutions at the regional level and we review the empirical findings on these issues in the context of Southern Europe (Greece, Italy, Portugal, and Spain). Finally we provide a brief exploratory analysis of the potential association between the education of the population and the GDP per capita at the regional-level for those four countries.




Biscaia, R., Teixeira, P., Rocha, V., & Cardoso, M. F. (2017). Higher education, human capital, and regional dynamics in Southern Europe. In Advances in Spatial Science (pp. 323–344). Springer International Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-49818-8_14

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