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  • Print publication year: 2020
  • Online publication date: March 2020

4 - Human Capital

from Part II - Problematic Explanations and Solutions


Using human capital formation in the oil industry in Africa, this chapter shows that Africa’s experiences with oil contradict the mainstream account of human capital and economic development. Rather, (a) both the demand for and supply of education have dramatically increased during the oil boom, and (b) this boom is neither the result of local content alone nor the product of distorted public interventions. Rather, it is a function of cumulative forces and processes as well as aspirations for a different reality in the future. In turn, there are strong grounds for demanding – as of right – that the fruits in the oil industry be shared. That is, if the fruits are collectively produced and reproduced, then they must also be widely socialized and diffused. Yet, (c) investment in "oil education" has not been accompanied by the expected "returns on education" in the sense of establishing congruence between jobs expected and jobs obtained, and (d) much of the relatively little employment generated is gendered and endangered work, with annualized wages that are different and differentiated between local and imported labor, creating a labor aristocracy in the workforce that is not necessarily linked to embodied investment in education and experience

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