Brexit test will be its effect on Britain's reserves of talent, study finds


Britain's wealth over the past 250 years has been driven by people, and the test of Brexit will be how it affects the country's reserves of talent, a new study has found.

The country's human capital - the knowledge and skills people have - has soared by a multiple of 112 over the past 250 years, a report states.

Dr Jan Kunnas, from the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, says this "phenomenal growth" was mainly down to the size and strength of Britain's workforce rather than its natural assets.

His study, entitled Human Capital in Britain 1760-2009 and published in the Scandinavian Economic History Review, found that until 1950 Britain's growth was driven by the expanding workforce.

But post-war, the quality of Britain's workers, who were accordingly paid more, overtook quantity in driving wealth, the study found.

Dr Kunnas wrote: "A World Bank (2006) report asked 'Where is the Wealth of Nations?' Our calculations show that for Britain, the answer is undoubtedly in its people.

"A comparison of human capital to other forms of capital, net reproducible capital and natural capital, shows that human capital was the main form of capital in Britain during the whole period under scrutiny, accounting for over 70% of wealth in both 1770 and 2000."

Dr Kunnas said Britain's future wealth also lies in its people - and warned that how leaving the EU will affect its reserves of talented workers will be of crucial importance in the future.

He added: "The major impacts of Brexit will be in how it affects Britain's education system, that maintains and build up its human capital, and how it affects Britain's attractiveness to well-educated immigrants."