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Explaining Educational Attainment across Countries and over Time

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  • Diego Restuccia
  • Guillaume Vandenbroucke

Abstract

Consider the following facts. In 1950 the richest ten-percent of countries attained an average of 8.1 years of schooling whereas the poorest ten-percent of countries attained 1.3 years, a 6-fold difference. By 2005, the difference in schooling declined to 2-fold. The fact is that schooling has increased faster in poor than in rich countries. What explains educational attainment differences across countries and their evolution over time? We develop an otherwise standard model of human capital accumulation with two novel but important features: non-homotetic preferences and an operating labor supply margin. We use the model to assess the quantitative contribution of productivity and life expectancy differences across countries in explaining educational attainment. Calibrating the parameters of the model to reproduce the historical time-series data for the United States, we find that the model accounts for 96 percent of the difference in schooling levels between rich and poor countries in 1950 and 89 percent of the increase in schooling over time in poor countries. The model generates a faster increase in schooling in poor than in rich countries consistent with the data. These results highlight the role of development in education and thus have important implications for educational policy.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Toronto, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number tecipa-469.

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Length: Unknown pages
Date of creation: 10 Jan 2013
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Handle: RePEc:tor:tecipa:tecipa-469

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Keywords: schooling; productivity; life expectancy; education policy; labor supply;

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Diego Restuccia & Guillaume Vandenbroucke, 2012. "A Century of Human Capital and Hours," Working Papers, University of Toronto, Department of Economics tecipa-460, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
  2. Córdoba, Juan Carlos & Ripoll, Marla, 2013. "What explains schooling differences across countries?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 60(2), pages 184-202.
  3. Emin Dinlersoz & Jeremy Greenwood, 2012. "The Rise and Fall of Unions in the U.S," Economie d'Avant Garde Research Reports, Economie d'Avant Garde 19, Economie d'Avant Garde.
  4. Diego Restuccia, 2013. "The Latin American Development Problem: An Interpretation," JOURNAL OF LACEA ECONOMIA, LACEA - LATIN AMERICAN AND CARIBBEAN ECONOMIC ASSOCIATION.
  5. repec:cen:wpaper:12-12 is not listed on IDEAS
  6. Vogel, Edgar, 2011. "Human Capital and the Demographic Transition: Why Schooling Became Optimal," MEA discussion paper series, Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA) at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy 11247, Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA) at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy.
  7. Dragomirescu-Gaina, Catalin & Elia, Leandro & Weber, Anke, 2014. "A fast-forward look at tertiary education attainment in Europe 2020," MPRA Paper 57957, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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