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The twentieth century may be defined as the era of human capital in the sense that the primary factor of any country’s standard of living is its capacity to develop and use the competences, knowledge, health and customs of its inhabitants. Education and training not only foster growth and efficiency, but also reduce inequality and the negative consequences of deprived backgrounds. In the advanced countries of the West, families – where human capital is formed – have changed and are now growing smaller and less stable. This is due, in part, to basic tendencies in the modern economy, and, in part, to artificial incentives created by the modern welfare state. These incentives can be modified without damage – on the contrary, with huge benefits – for modern social and economic life. By way of an example, the author cites possible adjustments in terms of assistance to unmarried mothers, social welfare, services for children and education.