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Human Capital vs. Social Capital: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on January 17, 2024
Human Capital refers to the skills, knowledge, and experience possessed by an individual or population, while Social Capital pertains to the networks, relationships, and social interactions that facilitate cooperation and collective action.

Key Differences

Human capital emphasizes the economic value of an individual's skills and knowledge. Social capital, on the other hand, focuses on the value derived from social networks and relationships.
Human capital directly influences an individual's productivity and employment prospects. Social capital affects productivity indirectly through the sharing of information and resources within a network.
Investing in education and training enhances human capital. Social capital is built through fostering relationships and community participation.
Human capital is often measured by educational attainment and professional skills. Social capital is evaluated based on the strength and extent of social connections and networks.
Human capital is critical for individual economic success and innovation. Social capital plays a key role in societal cohesion and collective problem-solving.

Comparison Chart


Skills, knowledge, experience of individuals
Networks, relationships facilitating cooperation


Directly on individual productivity
Indirectly on collective action


Through education and training
Through building relationships, community involvement


Educational levels, professional expertise
Strength and reach of social networks

Role in Economy

Individual economic success, innovation
Societal cohesion, collective solutions

Human Capital and Social Capital Definitions

Human Capital

Skill Set.
The company's human capital, including its skilled workforce, drives its innovation.

Social Capital

Community Participation.
Active community participation is a key indicator of social capital.

Human Capital

Work Experience.
Employees with extensive work experience contribute significantly to the human capital of a firm.

Social Capital

Social Cohesion.
Social capital contributes to the social cohesion and well-being of a society.

Human Capital

Professional Training.
Investing in professional training enhances the human capital of the organization.

Social Capital

Network of Relationships.
The social capital of a community lies in its strong network of relationships and mutual trust.

Human Capital

Knowledge Base.
The collective knowledge base of employees is an aspect of human capital crucial for research and development.

Social Capital

Resource Sharing.
Social capital facilitates the sharing of resources among members of a network.

Human Capital

Educational Attainment.
Higher educational attainment represents an increase in human capital.

Social Capital

Collective Action.
Through social capital, communities can mobilize collective action for common goals.


How does human capital affect economic growth?

By enhancing workforce quality and innovation capabilities.

Why is human capital important in business?

It drives innovation, productivity, and competitive advantage.

What is human capital?

The collective skills, knowledge, and experience of individuals.

How is human capital developed?

Through education, training, and professional experience.

Can human capital be measured?

Yes, through educational levels and skills assessment.

What role does social capital play in communities?

It supports social cohesion and collaborative problem-solving.

How does social capital impact individual well-being?

By providing support, resources, and a sense of belonging.

Is human capital limited to formal education?

No, it also includes informal learning and experiences.

How is social capital built?

Through fostering strong relationships and community engagement.

Can social capital be lost?

Yes, through social fragmentation and loss of trust.

Do social networks always indicate high social capital?

Not necessarily; the quality of interactions is also crucial.

Can social capital influence business success?

Yes, through networking, collaboration, and shared knowledge.

How does technology affect social capital?

It can enhance or diminish social capital depending on its use.

How do societal changes impact social capital?

Changes in societal norms and technology can greatly influence social capital.

What is social capital?

The networks and relationships that facilitate collective action.

Does social capital extend beyond local communities?

Yes, it can include global networks and relationships.

How do companies invest in human capital?

Through training programs, education benefits, and career development.

What is the role of leadership in human capital development?

Effective leadership can maximize the potential of human capital.

Can human capital decrease over time?

Yes, without ongoing development and learning.

Is human capital a tangible asset?

No, it's an intangible asset representing workforce quality.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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