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In the modern-nation state, the engine for economic sustainability is nothing but human development. Indeed, focusing on human development becomes an incredibly significant factor that not only accelerates a better quality of life for the public at large but also promises sustainable economic growth of a country, ultimately. In fact, ensuring persistent and efficient spending on human development helps build a healthy workforce and gradually increases productivity and growth. Hence, the prerequisites for attaining human development include directly enhancing the abilities of the human force by investing and improving standards of living, health care, education, employment, sustainability of opportunities, equity and freedom. As a result, sustainable human development with active public participation, increasing labour productivity, paving ways for business, attracting Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs), utilizing public intellectual capabilities, increasing Gross Domestic Production (GDP) per human capita, empowering women marking greater workforce leads towards sustainable economic development, eventually. In a nutshell, human development and economic sustainability share a symbiotic relationship; one cannot exist without the other.
Highlighting the relationship between human development and economic sustainability
To begin with, explaining the terms aids more understanding to decode the relationship between human development and economic sustainability. As a matter of fact, developing people’s abilities and giving them a chance to use their skills by providing them with opportunities is nothing but human development. On the other hand, the continuous success of an economy supporting long-term economic growth of a country without lagging behind a country’s monetary situation in all aspects refers to economic sustainability. However, human development and economic sustainability are intrinsically inter-connected, co-evolutionary, and mutually reinforcing to each other. In addition to it, the Human Development Index (HDI)- a parameter that ranks countries on the basis of human development-has also emphasized that people and their capabilities are the ultimate criteria for the development of the country, not economic growth alone.
Dimensions of human development
Primarily, the dimensions of human development, either by enhancing human abilities or by creating environments for human development, have become inevitable, as long-term economic sustainability comes from increased labour productivity, and the determinant of labour productivity is human development.
“The ultimate resource in economic development is people. It is people, not capital, or raw materials that develop an economy.”(Peter Drucker)
Hence, by providing better health care, increasing literacy rate, enhancing GDP per capita, providing decent standards of living with equity, and sustainability – continuity in the availability of opportunities- human development can be achieved, which leads towards economic sustainability.
How does human development breed economic sustainability?
Factors related to human development that breeds economic sustainability are discussed below.
- Better health care system leading towards improved productivity
First, the health of a population is a foundational element for economic sustainability. Indeed, a large number of people contributing in their respective professions with good health makes a significant difference towards the economy of a country. For instance, it has shown during the period of Covid-19 when health issues have gripped human contribution significantly; subsequently, the global economy has suffered the most. Thus, a healthy workforce has actively contributed towards a sustainable economy in Japan and Germany with 3rd and 4th GDP rankings respectively, and have marked in the top 10 countries in the HDI list as well.
“Health is the core of human development “(Gro Harlem Brundtland)
- Enhancing human’s decent standards of living for sustainable growth
Next to it, human development emphasizes the well-being of present and future generations. Hence, spending on basic human necessities and facilities enabling them to perform best over the years is the goal for achieving long-term economic sustainability. For instance, it is evident from the HDI index ranking of Switzerland- marks at the top of the list -having the best living standards for people, making them less vulnerable to health care and other issues. Thus, it has benefited maximum from improving living standards and having a maximum workforce, ultimately marking long-term economic growth.
- Ensuring skilled and educated human capital accumulation
Furthermore, increasing labour productivity by the acquisition of education, enabling them to do more with the same capital, fosters the economic process. Hence, skilled and educated labour is the asset of a country, as it increases the stock of human capital marching the country towards a greater sustainable economy, like in the case of Norway marks the second position in the HDI index with a high literacy rate showing the importance of education in achieving human development and utilizing economic sustainable growth.
- Human capital formation increasing GDP per capita
Moreover, the process of adding to the stock of human capital over time by acquiring and increasing the number of skilled and experienced people has enabled them to use their potential for the betterment of the economy. Consequently, investing in health, standards of living and education enhance the human capital in the workforce of a country and increase the GDP per human capita. For example, it enhances employment and alleviates poverty with increasing FDI, as in the case of Singapore and China (the second biggest economy in the world) which are proven by the HDI index list marking human capital formation at the top in economic sustainability.
- Equipping the masses with innovation increasing economic growth
In the age of globalization, by keeping in consideration the new trends of innovation and technology, countries in the world have gained the glory of economy. Therefore, equipping the masses with innovation is the bone of the economy, as innovation drives economic growth by creating new industries, products, and services and has also proved in the United States of America (USA) that it has not only maintained sustainable economic growth but also created the hegemony of innovative economy by marking as the top economy, globally.
- Inclusive institutions promoting intellectual capabilities
Likewise, in this modern era, small and medium-sized enterprises play a significant role in job creation and economic diversification, contributing to a more sustainable and resilient economy. For instance, Microsoft Office and Bill Gates are the result of inclusive institutions’ work for exploring and promoting the talent of the masses for the country’s development.
- Equal access to education and employment opportunities enabling more workforce to participate
Last but not least, equal access to education and employment opportunities for women has enabled more workforce to participate in the economy. As a matter of fact, Nordic countries, like Sweden and Norway, marking second rank in the HDI list, are known for their gender-inclusive policies and high levels of women’s participation in the workforce. Thus, gender-inclusive development has also led towards sustainable economic growth.
Critically, the economic rise and stability of a country depends on human development, which is mandatory to lead a country towards the corridor of unfathomable glory. However, only a few developed countries have made it possible to use their workforce for the maximum benefits of the economy. Contrarily, the countries that find it hard to fill the gap exist between human development and economic sustainability are underdeveloped countries. Somehow, India and Nigeria have managed to make economic growth, but due to a lack of human development still exist at the bottom of the HDI index.
In a nutshell, enhancing human abilities and providing a healthy environment for participating in every profession of a country provides a road map for the long-term economic journey. Human development is beneficial in helping nations to leave their masses from abject poverty and hunger, as in the case of China. Likewise, investments in the country’s human capital lead the country towards GDP growth and towards economic sustainable growth by increasing income per capita, ultimately.
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