Towards a smart, inclusive and sustainable development. Investment in human capital and innovation. An empirical analysis

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The importance of a smart, inclusive and sustainable development as well as their main determinants had benefit in the last decades of an emergent attention both in the current evolution of the mix set of socio and economic policies as well as in the theoretical and empirical research development. The paper focuses on the role of investments in human capital and innovation, two closely interrelated variables, for a smart, inclusive and sustainable development, within the European Union countries. Our main research results show that, at the EU level, there are significant differences between less inclusive and sustainable developed countries and, correspondingly, between more inclusive and sustainable developed countries in terms of investments in human capital (expressed by the Global Human Capital Index and tertiary educational attainment), on one hand, and the national innovation systems performances (as illustrated by the Summary Innovation Index and R&D intensity), on the other hand. Moreover, the correlation and regression analysis results suggest that existing gaps between inclusive and sustainable development, manifested at the EU level, can be explained by the level of human capital optimization and innovation performances. Therefore, more attention have to be paid to take some specific actions, especially in the less inclusive and sustainable developed countries (such as Romania, Greece, Spain, and Portugal, called also emergent countries) in order to improve innovation performance and the leverage of the human capital for the benefit of both individuals’ themselves and of the whole economy for increasing the inclusiveness and sustainability of development.

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