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A story of large landowners and math skills: Inequality and human capital formation in long-run development, 1820–2000

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  • Baten, Joerg
  • Juif, Dácil

Abstract

We create a new dataset to test the influence of land inequality on long-run human capital formation in a global cross-country study and assess the importance of land inequality relative to income inequality. Our results show that early land inequality has a detrimental influence on math and science skills even a century later. We find that this influence is causal, using an instrumental variable (IV) approach with geological, climatic and other variables that are intrinsically exogenous. A second major contribution of our study is our assessment of the persistence of numerical cognitive skills, which are an important component of modern human capital measures. Early numeracy around 1820 is estimated using the age-heaping strategy. We argue that countries with early investments in numerical education entered a path-dependency of human capital-intensive industries, including skill-intensive agriculture and services. The combined long-run effects of land inequality and human capital path-dependence are assessed for the first time in this article.

Suggested Citation

  • Baten, Joerg & Juif, Dácil, 2014. "A story of large landowners and math skills: Inequality and human capital formation in long-run development, 1820–2000," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(2), pages 375-401.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jcecon:v:42:y:2014:i:2:p:375-401
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jce.2013.11.001
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    Cited by:

    1. Peter Sandholt Jensen & Markus Lampe & Paul Sharp & Christian Volmar Skovsgaard, 2018. "‘Getting to Denmark’: the Role of Elites for Development," Working Papers 0125, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).
    2. Baten, Joerg & Mumme, Christina, 2013. "Does inequality lead to civil wars? A global long-term study using anthropometric indicators (1816–1999)," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 32(C), pages 56-79.
    3. Jensen, Peter Sandholt & Lampe, Markus & Sharp, Paul, 2018. "‘Getting to Denmark’: the Role of Elites for Development," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 362, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    4. Blum, Matthias & Krauss, Karl-Peter, 2017. "Age heaping and numeracy: Looking behind the curtain," QUCEH Working Paper Series 2017-05, Queen's University Belfast, Queen's University Centre for Economic History.
    5. repec:kap:jecgro:v:23:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s10887-017-9151-1 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Oyvat, Cem & Tekgüç, Hasan, 2017. "Double squeeze on educational development: land inequality and ethnic conflict in Southeastern Turkey," Greenwich Papers in Political Economy 16812, University of Greenwich, Greenwich Political Economy Research Centre.
    7. Dahlum, Sirianne & Knutsen, Carl Henrik, 2017. "Do Democracies Provide Better Education? Revisiting the Democracy–Human Capital Link," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 94(C), pages 186-199.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Land inequality; Human capital; Economic history;

    JEL classification:

    • Q15 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Land Ownership and Tenure; Land Reform; Land Use; Irrigation; Agriculture and Environment
    • N30 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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