Human Capital Structural Upgrade in Catch-Up Economies: An International Comparison

Yuan Fuhua , Zhang Ping and Lu Mingtao
Institute of Economics, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), Beijing, China  
Abstract: Based on international comparison, this paper arrives at the following  
conclusions: (1) with the progress of industrialization and rising per capita GDP, successful  
catch-up countries will experience an upgrade from low-level human capital to high-  
level human capital; (2) the leap phenomenon exists in the deepening of high-level human  
capital and the universalization of tertiary education is normally completed within a  
relatively short period of time, which has cumulative causation with high productivity; (3)  
most developing countries face the critical mass of human capital upgrade, excessive low-  
level human capital and slow improvement of efficiency; (4) problems of China’s human  
capital structure are mainly reflected in the excessive secondary human capital with poor  
quality and insufficient accumulation of tertiary human capital. According to the patterns  
of human capital deepening, the fostering of human capital in the current stage determines  
whether China’s economic transition can succeed in the coming couple of decades. In order  
to mitigate the potential risks of belated transition, China must proactively seek the path of  
human capital upgrade.  
Keywords: growth, human capital structure, efficiency  
JEL Classification Code: J24
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