Working Paper BETA #2017-18

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Title : Some “unexpected proximities” between Schultz and Galbraith on human capital

Author(s) : Alexandre Chirat, Charlotte Le Chapelain

Abstract : This contribution highlights some unexpected proximities between Galbraith and Schultz’s thoughts on human capital. Despite apparently strong methodological divergences, both authors analyze the issue of human capital investment in the light of the dynamics of the economic development process. This issue is formulated in Galbraith’s vocabulary in terms of the requirements of the planning system, and in terms of the needs of production activities deriving from the dynamics of growth in Schultz’s. But the logic underlying their analysis is of the same order. The emphasis on the needs of production leads the two authors to address the issue of student sovereignty in making allocative decisions regarding education. By highlighting these proximities, our study shows that Schultz’s thought on human capital must not be conflated, from a methodological point of view, with Becker’s and Mincer’s. We thus question the idea that the human capital research program is characterized by strong methodological unity, in particular that it is characterized by methodological individualism. That Becker and Mincer’s works rely on methodological individualism is not called into question; the idea that Schultz’s thought is grounded on it deserves more careful examination.

Key-words : Human Capital, Education, Schultz, Galbraith, Methodological Individualism

JEL Classification : B41 – H52- I15 – P46