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How much do educational outcomes matter in OECD countries?

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  • Eric A. Hanushek
  • Ludger Woessmann

Abstract

Existing growth research provides little explanation for the very large differences in long-run growth performance across OECD countries. We show that cognitive skills can account for growth differences within the OECD, whereas a range of economic institutions and quantitative measures of tertiary education cannot. Under the growth model estimates and plausible projection parameters, school improvements falling within currently observed performance levels yield very large gains. The present value of OECD aggregate gains through 2090 could be as much as $275 trillion, or 13.8 percent of the discounted value of future GDP. Extensive sensitivity analyses indicate that, while differences between model frameworks and alternative parameter choices make a difference, the economic impact of improved educational outcomes remains enormous. Interestingly, the quantitative difference between an endogenous and neoclassical model framework – with improved skills affecting the long-run growth rate versus just the steady-state income level – matters less than academic discussions suggest. We close by discussing evidence on which education policy reforms may be able to bring about the simulated improvements in educational outcomes.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by CEPR & CES & MSH in its journal Economic Policy.

Volume (Year): 26 (2011)
Issue (Month): 67 (07)
Pages: 427-491

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Handle: RePEc:bla:ecpoli:v:26:y:2011:i:67:p:427-491

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References

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  1. Thomas S. Dee & Brian Jacob, 2011. "The impact of no Child Left Behind on student achievement," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 30(3), pages 418-446, Summer.
  2. Benhabib, Jess & Spiegel, Mark M., 1994. "The role of human capital in economic development evidence from aggregate cross-country data," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(2), pages 143-173, October.
  3. Cingano, Federico & Leonardi, Marco & Messina, Julián & Pica, Giovanni, 2009. "The Effect of Employment Protection Legislation and Financial Market Imperfections on Investment: Evidence from a Firm-Level Panel of EU Countries," IZA Discussion Papers 4158, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Ciccone, Antonio & Papaioannou, Elias, 2005. "Human Capital, the Structure of Production, and Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 5354, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Daniel Cohen & Marcelo Soto, 2007. "Growth and human capital: good data, good results," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 12(1), pages 51-76, March.
  6. Philippe Aghion & Mathias Dewatripont & Caroline Hoxby & Andreu Mas-Colell & André Sapir, 2010. "The governance and performance of universities: evidence from Europe and the US," Economic Policy, CEPR & CES & MSH, vol. 25, pages 7-59, 01.
  7. Atila Abdulkadiroglu & Joshua Angrist & Susan Dynarski & Thomas J. Kane & Parag Pathak, 2009. "Accountability and Flexibility in Public Schools: Evidence from Boston's Charters and Pilots," NBER Working Papers 15549, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Flavio Cunha & James J. Heckman & Lance Lochner & Dimitriy V. Masterov, 2005. "Interpreting the Evidence on Life Cycle Skill Formation," NBER Working Papers 11331, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Serge Coulombe & Jean-François Tremblay, 2004. "Literacy, Human Capital and Growth," Working Papers 0407E, University of Ottawa, Department of Economics.
  10. repec:lan:wpaper:971 is not listed on IDEAS
  11. Atkinson, Adele & Burgess, Simon & Croxson, Bronwyn & Gregg, Paul & Propper, Carol & Slater, Helen & Wilson, Deborah, 2009. "Evaluating the impact of performance-related pay for teachers in England," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(3), pages 251-261, June.
  12. Booker, Kevin & Gilpatric, Scott M. & Gronberg, Timothy & Jansen, Dennis, 2007. "The impact of charter school attendance on student performance," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(5-6), pages 849-876, June.
  13. Eric Eide, 2004. "The Teacher Labour Market and Teacher Quality," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 20(2), pages 230-244, Summer.
  14. Barro, Robert J. & Lee, Jong Wha, 2013. "A new data set of educational attainment in the world, 1950–2010," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 184-198.
  15. Bradley, Steve & Taylor, Jim, 2002. "The Effect of the Quasi-market on the Efficiency-Equity Trade-Off in the Secondary School Sector," Bulletin of Economic Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(3), pages 295-314, July.
  16. Melissa Osborne & Herbert Gintis & Samuel Bowles, 2001. "The Determinants of Earnings: A Behavioral Approach," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 39(4), pages 1137-1176, December.
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