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The Rise and Fall of the Portuguese Empire Observed from the Human Capital Angle(Special Issue, No 9, 2016)


By BaoYajun, Member of the Research Team on “The Waxing and Waning of a State and the Role of Human Capital” of DRC

Research Report, Special Issue, No 9, 2016 (Total NO 1484)2016-2-26

Abstract: Human capital played a crucial and unique role in the rise and fall of Portugal between the 15th and 16th centuries. In terms of land resources and population size, Portugal is a small country, but depending on its leading marine technology at that time, it launched the adventurous cause of overseas colonization and eventually became a new rising power in the world. The Portuguese strong will to blaze new trials and the protection mechanism for concerned interests lent a helping hand for their world expansion. However, due to limited human capital totality afterwards, no more knowledge upgrading was made accordingly. And the brain drain caused by improper management of internal problems undermined the country’s ability to sustain national prosperity. With regard to human capital building in modern times, China could draw some lessons such as taking human capital building as a national strategy, creating a relaxed and harmonious social atmosphere, proactively promoting social structure transformation, and building an incentive mechanism to take a high regard for talents and stimulate their motivation and creativity.

Key words: human capital, the rise of big powers, Portugal