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Human Capital and the Wealth of Nations

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  • Rodolfo E. Manuelli
  • Ananth Seshadri

Abstract

We reevaluate the role of human capital in determining the wealth of nations. We use standard human capital theory to estimate stocks of human capital and allow the quality of human capital to vary across countries. Our model can explain differences in schooling and earnings profiles and consequently estimates of Mincerian rates of return across countries. We find that effective human capital per worker varies substantially across countries. Cross-country differences in Total Factor Productivity (TFP) are significantly smaller than found in previous studies. Our model implies that output per worker is highly responsive to changes in TFP and demographic variables.

Suggested Citation

  • Rodolfo E. Manuelli & Ananth Seshadri, 2014. "Human Capital and the Wealth of Nations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(9), pages 2736-2762, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:104:y:2014:i:9:p:2736-62
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.104.9.2736
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Eric French, 2005. "The Effects of Health, Wealth, and Wages on Labour Supply and Retirement Behaviour," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 72(2), pages 395-427.
    2. Flavio Cunha & James J. Heckman & Susanne M. Schennach, 2010. "Estimating the Technology of Cognitive and Noncognitive Skill Formation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 78(3), pages 883-931, May.
    3. Andrés Erosa & Tatyana Koreshkova & Diego Restuccia, 2010. "How Important Is Human Capital? A Quantitative Theory Assessment of World Income Inequality," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 77(4), pages 1421-1449.
    4. David Lagakos & Benjamin Moll & Tommaso Porzio & Nancy Qian, 2012. "Experience Matters: Human Capital and Development Accounting," Working Papers 2012-021, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
    5. Erik Hanushek & F. Welch (ed.), 2006. "Handbook of the Economics of Education," Handbook of the Economics of Education, Elsevier, edition 1, volume 1, number 1, June.
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    7. John Karl Scholz & Ananth Seshadri & Surachai Khitatrakun, 2006. "Are Americans Saving "Optimally" for Retirement?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(4), pages 607-643, August.
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    9. Todd Schoellman, 2013. "Refugees and Early Childhood Human Capital," 2013 Meeting Papers 52, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    10. Chang-Tai Hsieh & Peter J. Klenow, 2007. "Relative Prices and Relative Prosperity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(3), pages 562-585, June.
    11. Jacob A. Mincer, 1974. "Schooling, Experience, and Earnings," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number minc74-1, December.
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    13. Yoram Ben-Porath, 1967. "The Production of Human Capital and the Life Cycle of Earnings," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 75, pages 352-352.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E23 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Production
    • I25 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Economic Development
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • O47 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Empirical Studies of Economic Growth; Aggregate Productivity; Cross-Country Output Convergence

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