East Asia and the Pacific
East Asia and the Pacific—jointly with South Asia, the world’s most populous region—scores towards the middle of the range of the Global Human Capital Index results, with an overall average score of 65.77. The gap between the best and worst performers is among the largest of any region, reflecting in part the different stages of economic development of the 16 countries covered in the Index, as well as the varying degrees of human capital development that exist between countries with similar income. Over half of the countries in the region have achieved near-universal primary school enrolment rates. Yet, on average, over 20% of the region’s 0–14 age group is not enrolled in secondary education. Nevertheless, scores for the region’s Capacity subindex are generally much higher among the region’s younger age groups, reflecting the region’s remarkable progress between generations.
The best-performing countries in the region, such as Singapore (11), Japan (17), and Korea, Rep. (27), are global strongholds of human capital success, while countries such as Lao PDR (84), Myanmar (89) and Cambodia (92) trail the region despite their very high degree of human capital utilization across the Deployment subindex. By contrast, ASEAN economies such as Thailand (40) are managing to complement high Deployment scores with skill-intensive utilization of their human capital potential as evidenced by its strong performance on the Know-how subindex. Vietnam (64) and Indonesia (65) have made remarkable progress in educational attainment among their younger generations and have a correspondingly solid outlook for building their future human capital potential across the Development subindex. Malaysia (33) performs ahead of the rest of ASEAN other than Singapore, with strong scores across Capacity, Development and Know-how, but is held back by its Deployment subindex performance, due to considerable employment gender gaps.
China (34) does best on the Deployment subindex, but also performs relatively well across the Development and Know-how subindexes. Ranking well ahead of the other BRICS nations—except for the Russian Federation—the country’s rapid expansion of educational attainment across its younger generations is poised to prove an asset in preparing its future workforce. Conversely, fast-ageing Japan (17), and Korea, Rep. (27) realize a high degree of their human capital on the Capacity subindexes due to notable educational achievements of their older generations. However, both countries are held back by relatively low labour force participation across the age range, due in particular to persistent employment gender gaps. Singapore (11) combines the world’s second-highest proportion of high-skilled employment with significant strengths in the quality of its education system and staff training. It, too, is yet to fully realize the human capital boost that would come from addressing the nation’s employment gender gap.
Meanwhile, New Zealand (7) and Australia (20) add two further countries with solid track records in maximizing their human capital to the East Asia and the Pacific region’s wider talent pool, although the latter would benefit from additional efforts to reduce unemployment and underemployment, particularly among its young generation.