In economic usage, this term refers to the value over a fixed future period of the additional productivity of skilled people compared with unskilled people, as a result of investment in education and health. Informally this term is also used to refer to the value to society of the skills and health of the working population. The definition of “human capital” can also cover members of society who are not formally employed but who have an important role in, for example, parenting or care for the elderly.
It is commonly accepted that human capital is maximized in conditions of low infant mortality and affordable health services. The argument that health is not only an outcome of development, but also a prerequisite for it, is related to the recognition of the importance of human capital. This argument is reflected in the recommendations of the Commission on Macroeconomics and Health.