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Good schools make good neighbors: Human capital spillovers in early 20th century agriculture

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  • Parman, John

Abstract

Formal schooling has a significant impact on modern agricultural productivity but there is little evidence quantifying the historical importance of schools in the early development of the American agricultural sector. I present new data from the Midwest at the start of the twentieth century showing that the emerging public schools were helping farmers successfully adapt to a variety of agricultural innovations. I use a unique dataset of farmers containing detailed geographical information to estimate both the private returns to schooling and human capital spillovers across neighboring farms. The results indicate that public schools contributed substantially to agricultural productivity at the turn of the century and that a large portion of this contribution came through human capital spillovers. These findings offer new insights into why the Midwest was a leader in the expansion of secondary education.

Suggested Citation

  • Parman, John, 2012. "Good schools make good neighbors: Human capital spillovers in early 20th century agriculture," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 49(3), pages 316-334.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:exehis:v:49:y:2012:i:3:p:316-334
    DOI: 10.1016/j.eeh.2012.04.002
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Ball, V. Eldon & San Juan, Carlos & Ulloa, Camilo, 2012. "State Productivity Growth: Catching Up and the Business Cycle," 2012 Annual Meeting, August 12-14, 2012, Seattle, Washington 123334, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    2. Ball, V. Eldon & San Juan Mesonada, Carlos & Ulloa, Camilo A., 2011. "Agricultural productivity in the United States: catching-up and the business cycle," UC3M Working papers. Economics we1116, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. Departamento de Economía.
    3. Logan, Trevon D. & Parman, John M., 2017. "The National Rise in Residential Segregation," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 77(01), pages 127-170, March.
    4. Andersson, Jens & Berger, Thor, 2016. "Elites and the Expansion of Education in 19th-century Sweden," Lund Papers in Economic History 149, Lund University, Department of Economic History.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Education; Agricultural productivity; Social networks; Human capital spillovers;

    JEL classification:

    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • N51 - Economic History - - Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment and Extractive Industries - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913
    • I25 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Economic Development
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
    • Q12 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Micro Analysis of Farm Firms, Farm Households, and Farm Input Markets
    • N31 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913

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