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Schooling, Cognitive Skills, and the Latin American Growth Puzzle

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  • Eric A. Hanushek
  • Ludger Woessmann

Abstract

Economic development in Latin America has trailed most other world regions over the past four decades despite its relatively high initial development and school attainment levels. This puzzle can be resolved by considering the actual learning as expressed in tests of cognitive skills, on which Latin American countries consistently perform at the bottom. In growth models estimated across world regions, these low levels of cognitive skills can account for the poor growth performance of Latin America. Given the limitations of worldwide tests in discriminating performance at low levels, we also introduce measures from two regional tests designed to measure performance for all Latin American countries with internationally comparable income data. Our growth analysis using these data confirms the significant effects of cognitive skills on intra-regional variations. Splicing the new regional tests into the worldwide tests, we also confirm this effect in extended worldwide regressions, although it appears somewhat smaller in the regional Latin American data than in the worldwide data.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 15066.

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Date of creation: Jun 2009
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Publication status: published as S c h o o l i n g , E d u c a t i o n a l A c h i e v e m e n t , a n d t h e L a t i n A m e r i c a n G r o w t h P u z z l e ( w i t h L u d g e r W o e s s m a n n ) . J o u r n a l o f D e v e l o p m e n t E c o n o m i c s , 9 9 ( 2 ) , N o v e m b e r 2 0 1 2 , p p . 4 9 7 - 5 1 2 .
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15066

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  6. Eric A. Hanushek, 2002. "Publicly Provided Education," NBER Working Papers 8799, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Robert J. Barro & Jong-Wha Lee, 1993. "International Comparisons of Educational Attainment," NBER Working Papers 4349, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Peter J. Klenow & Mark Bils, 2000. "Does Schooling Cause Growth?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1160-1183, December.
  9. Jerik Hanushek & Dennis Kimko, 2006. "Schooling, Labor-force Quality, and the Growth of Nations," Educational Studies, Higher School of Economics, issue 1, pages 154-193.
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  12. Hanushek, Eric A. & Wößmann, Ludger, 2008. "The role of cognitive skills in economic development," Munich Reprints in Economics 20454, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  13. Topel, Robert, 1999. "Labor markets and economic growth," Handbook of Labor Economics, Elsevier, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 44, pages 2943-2984 Elsevier.
  14. Eric A. Hanushek & Lei Zhang, 2006. "Quality-Consistent Estimates of International Returns to Skill," NBER Working Papers 12664, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. George Psacharopoulos & Harry Anthony Patrinos, 2004. "Returns to investment in education: a further update," Education Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 12(2), pages 111-134.
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Cited by:
  1. Felipe Barrera-Osorio & Darío Maldonado & Catherine Rodríguez, 2012. "Calidad de la Educación Básica y Media en Colombia: Diagnóstico y Propuestas," DOCUMENTOS CEDE 010321, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE.
  2. Prados de la Escosura, Leandro, 2013. "Human development in Africa: A long-run perspective," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 50(2), pages 179-204.
  3. Metzler, Johannes & Wößmann, Ludger, 2012. "The impact of teacher subject knowledge on student achievement: Evidence from within-teacher within-student variation," Munich Reprints in Economics 19216, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  4. Arlette Beltrán & Janice Seinfeld, 2011. "Hacia una educación de calidad en el Perú: El heterogéneo impacto de la educación inicial sobre el rendimiento escolar," Working Papers 11-06, Departamento de Economía, Universidad del Pacífico, revised Sep 2011.
  5. Christian Daude, 2012. "Development Accounting: Lessons for Latin America," OECD Development Centre Working Papers 313, OECD Publishing.
  6. Angrist, Noam & Patrinos, Harry Anthony & Schlotter, Martin, 2013. "An expansion of a global data set on educational quality : a focus on achievement in developing countries," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6536, The World Bank.
  7. Juan Castro & Gustavo Yamada & Omar Arias, 2011. "Higher Education Decisions in Peru: On the Role of Financial Constraints, Skills, and Family Background," Working Papers 11-14, Departamento de Economía, Universidad del Pacífico, revised Dec 2011.
  8. Hanushek, Eric A. & Wößmann, Ludger, 2012. "Schooling, educational achievement, and the Latin American growth puzzle," Munich Reprints in Economics 20399, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  9. Peter H. Lindert, 2009. "Revealing Failures in the History of School Finance," NBER Working Papers 15491, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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