Grace Weinberger- Aparicio-HB Imagine a world where the family you are born into determined your wealth and well-being for the rest of your life. Sadly, this situation currently exists in America. The value of a person is defined by a concept called human capital. Human capital is the sum total of skills embodied within an individual once that person is stripped of all their assets. Even though, people must work to attain certain skills, one’s human capital is governed by the family one is born into.
Human capital is established when people are young by setting their value from how their parents raise them. In the book, Naked Economics Undressing the Dismal Science, it discusses how much parents influence their children’s human capital, “Educated parents are more likely to put their children in car seats and teach them about colors and letters before they begin school” . These parents understand the need to begin educating their children at a very young age so they can gain an advantage. These parents know that if all else fails, their child will be left with something and will find a way to succeed. Most parents want their child to prosper and education is typically the foundation. This fact is demonstrated by the Abouali family and their son, Gamal, who was studying engineering, “The sooner he had his degree, his father insisted, the more secure he would be” .
The value of education as it relates to human capital is demonstrated with the statement from Charles Wheelan, “A college education is reckoned to yield a 10 percent return on investment…” . The same is true in reverse, if a family does not value a high school education and their child drops out of high school, this child will have a low human capital. Rather, the family that values education will have a child with significantly more human capital because if he or she is stripped of his or her assets he or she would be better off than the child that did not attend high school and then neglected to pursue a college degree.
Along with the value of education, children that are born into poorer families might not be provided the opportunity of attending high school because they are needed to begin working as soon as possible so they can assist in paying bills. This particular family is using their full utility and value making money because it is what is required. As one can see, those born into families which value education are able to grow their human capital and will be better off. Life in America is not fair as demonstrated by the fact that the family one is born into can determine one’s value and future life.
Certainly there are ways to improve one’s human capital by acquiring particular skills and competencies but the leading determinant of human capital is how someone is raised and how much they obtain from education, life experiences, and parent examples. The competition this creates for all Americans drives us all to exceed the past, never give up, and continue procuring more human capital. This idea of competition will only increase in the future and as a result providing additional ways to maximize one’s human capital along with families striving to better prepare their children.
 Wheelan, Charles. Naked Econimics: undressing the dismal science. (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2010), 134.
 Ibid. 129
 Ibid. 128
Human Capital and Cities. Accessed June 24, 2017. http://lewishistoricalsociety.com/wiki2011/tiki-read_article.php?articleId=126