World Bank says Caribbean could still benefit from Human Capital Index Report

The World Bank Saturday said that the new World Bank Human Capital Index released earlier this week gives policymakers in the Caribbean and around the world compelling evidence that delivering better outcomes in children’s health and learning can significantly boost the incomes of people and of countries with returns far into the future.

The Index ranks where each country is now in terms of productivity of the next generation of workers. According to the research, Trinidad and Tobago followed by Jamaica have made significant human capital gains and rank ahead of other countries in the Caribbean region, the World Bank said.

But it said “despite these progress, important gaps remain: a child born today in Trinidad and Tobago will have 61 per cent of the labour productivity it could have had if provided with complete education and full health.

“In Jamaica, children born today once they grow up, will be only 54 percent as productive as they could be if they enjoyed complete education and full health.”

The World Bank said that other Caribbean countries including Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Suriname are not featured in the Human Capital Index due to the lack of internationally comparable data measuring quality of education.

“Going forward, the index may incorporate more data, including on the quality of education in the Caribbean, as well as expanding its coverage of other aspects of human capital. We hope that all countries will engage with the Human Capital Project, which recognizes human capital as driver of inclusive growth,” the World Bank said.

Earlier this week, Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness called for his country to be included in the World Bank Human Capital Index programme.

“It is absolutely important for the government to redouble its efforts, from a policy perspective and from an implementation perspective, to ensure that we do well in terms of measuring our human capital development (adequately),” he then said.

The World Bank’s Human Capital Index, launched Thursday, seeks to measure the degree of the health of children, teenagers and adults as well as the quality and quantity of education that can be received well by children until the age of 18.

The Human Capital Index, shows that 56 per cent of children born today across the world will lose more than half their potential lifetime earnings because governments are not currently making effective investments in their people to ensure a healthy, educated, and resilient population ready for the workplace of the future.

The research shows that the Latin America and the Caribbean region scored well in indicators measuring health conditions for children and has high adult survival rates and relatively low levels of stunting.

“Yet, its students underperform across all tested subjects under the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) collected by the OECD. In addition, 20 percent of young people between 15 to 24 years are out of school or out of work and vulnerable communities, including indigenous population, have higher rates of stunting due to chronic malnutrition. This also underscores the urgency of creating an environment conducive to job creation, especially for youth, women and vulnerable populations.

The Index is part of the World Bank Group’s Human Capital Project, which recognizes human capital as driver of inclusive growth. In addition to the Index, the Human Capital Project includes a programme to strengthen research and measurement on human capital, as well as support to countries to accelerate progress in human capital outcomes.

The Index is included in the forthcoming World Development Report 2019 on the Changing Nature of Work, which addresses the importance of investing in human capital to prepare for the future of work.

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