Nobel Prize Winner Gives Honorary Lecture at Zayed University

07 Mar 2017

Under the Patronage of Her Excellency, Sheikha Lubna Bint Khalid Al Qasimi, Minister of State for Tolerance and President of Zayed University, Christopher Pissarides, Regius Professor of Economics at the London School of Economics and Associate at the Center for Economic Performance, gave a lecture to students in an event held at Zayed University’s Abu Dhabi campus.

The lecture, which focused on ‘Human Capital as a Factor of Economic Development and Growth’, attracted great interest with more than 300 students, faculty, staff and guests from several universities in Abu Dhabi and Al-Ain in attendance.

At the outset of the event, Professor AlMehaideb, Vice President of Zayed University, welcomed Pissarides saying: “It gives me a great pleasure on behalf of Zayed University to extend a very warm welcome to our guest speaker and all attendees. It is a real pleasure today to host you at Zayed University to share with us your special experience on human capital as factor of economic development and growth, which is very much relevant to the UAE Government aspirations and directions”.

AlMehaideb added that “The government is very keen on creating an environment that develops teamwork, commitment, and leadership. It invests heavily in training, development programs, and manpower attraction to develop young Emirati leaders and invest in human capital to achieve success and contribute to the prosperity of the UAE.”

Pissarides won a Nobel Prize for Economic Sciences in 2010 and has been knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 2013 in recognition of his services and contributions to economics.

“I am really pleased to be here at Zayed University talking to you about human capital, one of the things that has interested me for the past 30 years or so. I am going to address broader questions that have to do with human capital; for example, how human capital is related to economic development and growth.”

During his lecture, Pissarides highlighted the impact of incentives and institutional structure on the productivity of humans as well as firms.

“Human capital is not like a machine. Human beings respond to incentives. If you give the right incentive to a person, they could be very productive. We see that everywhere even in academia. Take a professor and put him into an environment that encourages research and provide the right incentives, and you will see marvelous outputs,” he said.

He added: “Institutional structure cannot be measured very easily and that’s why we get big variations in economic growth relevant to their human capital across different countries. Some institutional structures provide incentives for new productions, while others reward what we call rent seeking, which are activities that are part of the economy, but essentially result in redistribution without new production.”

“It is not only how much human capital a country has that influences growth. It is also how it uses this capital,” he concluded.

Pissarides pointed out that investment in human capital can add anywhere from 3-15 per cent to economic growth depending on the institutional structure in different countries.

At the end of the lecture, the floor was open to students to ask questions and engage in discussions, which tackled various areas.

When asked about the impact of artificial intelligence, robots, and automation on jobs in the future, Pissarides forecasted that jobs requiring human interaction will always be in demand. Therefore, there will always be jobs in the future but likely different types of jobs and possibly a shorter, more productive work week. He also forecasted that jobs in the arts and theater will likely be in greater demand given that many people will have more leisure time.

During the discussion, Pissarides advised to design curricula that encourages more interaction and thus enhance creativity and innovation.

“The other training that we are all behind is the social training and human interaction. We don’t have nearly as much as we need. It is very essential to know how to interact with each other,” he said.