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Education, Income Distribution and Growth: The Local Connection

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  • Roland Benabou

Abstract

This paper develops a simple model of human capital accumulation and community formation by heterogeneous families, which provides an integrated framework for analyzing the local determinants of inequality and growth. Five main conclusions emerge. First, minor differences in education technologies, preferences, or wealth can lead to a high degree of stratification. Imperfect capital markets are not necessary, but will compound these other sources. Second, stratification makes inequality in education and income more persistent across generations. Whether or not the same is true of inequality in total wealth depends on the ability of the rich to appropriate the rents created by their secession. Third, the polarization of urban areas resulting from individual residential decisions can be quite inefficient, both from the point of view of aggregate growth and in the Pareto sense, especially in the long run. Fourth, when state-wide equalization of school expenditures is insufficient to reduce stratification, it may improve educational achievement in poor communities much less than it lowers it in richer communities; thus average academic performance and income growth both fall. Yet it may still be possible for education policy to improve both equity and efficiency. Fifth, because of the cumulative nature of the stratification process, it is likely to be much harder to reverse once it has run its course than to arrest it at an early stage.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 4798.

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Date of creation: Jul 1994
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Publication status: published as modified title: "Equity and Efficiency in Human Capital Investment: The Local Connection," Review of Economic Studies, vol. 63, no. 2, pp. 237-264, 1996.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4798

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  1. Card, David & Krueger, Alan B, 1992. "Does School Quality Matter? Returns to Education and the Characteristics of Public Schools in the United States," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(1), pages 1-40, February.
  2. Case, A.C. & Katz, L.F., 1991. "The Company You Keep: The Effects Of Family And Neighborhood On Disadvantaged Younths," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1555, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  3. Oded Galor & Joseph Zeira, 2013. "Income Distribution and Macroeconomics," Working Papers 2013-12, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  4. Cornes, Richard, 1993. "Dyke Maintenance and Other Stories: Some Neglected Types of Public Goods," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 108(1), pages 259-71, February.
  5. Glomm, Gerhard & Ravikumar, B, 1992. "Public versus Private Investment in Human Capital Endogenous Growth and Income Inequality," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(4), pages 818-34, August.
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Cited by:
  1. Bardhan, Pranab, 1997. "Method in the madness? a political-economy analysis of the ethnic conflicts in less developed countries," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 25(9), pages 1381-1398, September.
  2. Kevin Sylwester, 2003. "Income Inequality And Population Density 1500 Ad: A Connection," Journal of Economic Development, Chung-Ang Unviersity, Department of Economics, vol. 28(2), pages 61-82, December.
  3. repec:idb:brikps:53919 is not listed on IDEAS
  4. William A. Brock & Steven N. Durlauf, 1995. "Discrete Choice with Social Interactions I: Theory," NBER Working Papers 5291, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Edward L. Glaeser & Bruce Sacerdote & Jose A. Scheinkman, 1995. "Crime and Social Interactions," NBER Working Papers 5026, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Adriana Marina, 2000. "Economic convergence of the first and second moment in the provinces of Argentina," Estudios de Economia, University of Chile, Department of Economics, vol. 27(2 Year 20), pages 259-277, December.
  7. Beitia, Arantza, 2002. "Regulation in education," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(6), pages 709-735, November.
  8. Murat F. Iyigun, 1995. "Economic development and intergenerational economic mobility," International Finance Discussion Papers 524, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  9. Barr & Oduro, Abena, 2000. "Ethnicity and wage determination in Ghana," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2506, The World Bank.
  10. De Gregorio, Jose & Lee, Jong-Wha, 2002. "Education and Income Inequality: New Evidence from Cross-Country Data," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 48(3), pages 395-416, September.
  11. Kim, Taejong & Lee, Ju-Ho & Lee, Young, 2008. "Mixing versus sorting in schooling: Evidence from the equalization policy in South Korea," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 27(6), pages 697-711, December.
  12. José De Gregorio & Jong-Wha Lee, 1999. "Education and Income Distribution: New Evidence from Cross-country Data," Documentos de Trabajo 55, Centro de Economía Aplicada, Universidad de Chile.
  13. Robson, Arthur J & Wooders, Myrna, 1997. "On the Growth-Maximizing Distribution of Income," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 38(3), pages 511-26, August.
  14. Elizabeth Oltmans Ananat, 2007. "The Wrong Side(s) of the Tracks Estimating the Causal Effects of Racial Segregation on City Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 13343, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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