The death of human capital? Its failed promise and how to renew it in an age of disruption

Phillip Brown, Hugh Lauder, Sin Yi Cheung

Research output: Book/ReportBook

80 Citations (SciVal)


Human capital theory, the notion that there is a direct relationship between educational investment and individual and national prosperity, has dominated public policy on education and labor for the past fifty years. This book describes the development of human capital theory and why it has turned into a failed revolution. It outlines an alternative theory that re-defines human capital in an age of smart machines. The new human capital rejects the view that automation and AI will result in the end of waged work, but sees the fundamental problem as a lack of quality jobs offering interesting, worthwhile and rewarding opportunities. At stake in the new human capital are the future prospects for individual wellbeing in productive, sustainable and inclusive societies. It also connects with a growing sense that capitalism is in crisis, felt by students and the wider workforce, in offering a sober assessment of current realities at the same time as a sense of hope for the future.

Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationNew York, U. S. A.
PublisherOxford University Press (OUP)
Number of pages286
ISBN (Print) 9780190644314
Publication statusPublished - 4 Nov 2020


  • Academic credentials
  • Education and technology
  • Education policy
  • Future of work
  • Human capital theory
  • Income inequalities
  • Labor
  • Labor markets
  • Schooling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Arts and Humanities(all)


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