If we set aside philosophy and morality for a moment, education that doesn’t form human capital amounts to nothing more than a piece of paper, or mere credentialing. Because Americans have more than $1 trillion in student loan debt, it’s apparent that this credentialing is a massive net tax on the labor market and constitutes a huge drag on household wealth. Policy-makers should realize that education incentives can only exacerbate this problem.
This leads policy makers back to the central challenge facing the American economy: How do we form human capital? Education does this, but it must be primed with good early childhood formation within the family, or else it is – quantifiably – a waste of money, as Nobel Prize economist James Heckman has shown.
Second, work itself forms human capital. As an employee gains skills and becomes more proficient, his value as a worker increases substantially over time – and, thus, his contribution to the economy increases.
Finally, both of these points are tied together by marriage, which helps cause human capital’s formation, and does so by encouraging both work and education.
Strengthening marriage and the role of parents in the development of their children will do much more than ineffective education and workforce social programs. In strengthening the family, we will see the economy grow and once again rediscover the core strength of the United States: the intact married family.