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The role of cognitive skills in economic development revisited


  • Theodore Breton


Students´ test scores at ages 9 to 15 are a measure of their skills as workers five to 55 years later. Using historic data on test scores and school attendance, I calculate the share of workers in 2005 that could have scored above 400 and above 600 in 45 countries. I find that the share above 400 and average schooling attainment cause national income, while the share above 600 and the share with post-secondary schooling do not. Implicitly the best long-term development strategy for poor countries is to increase the share of students who complete primary and secondary schooling.

Suggested Citation

  • Theodore Breton, 2012. "The role of cognitive skills in economic development revisited," Documentos de Trabajo de Valor Público 10576, Universidad EAFIT.
  • Handle: RePEc:col:000122:010576

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    Cited by:

    1. Du, Juntao & Song, Malin & Xie, Bing, 2022. "Eliminating energy poverty in Chinese households: A cognitive capability framework," Renewable Energy, Elsevier, vol. 192(C), pages 373-384.

    More about this item


    World; Cognitive Skills; Human Capital; Education; Schooling; Economic Growth;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • F43 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - Economic Growth of Open Economies
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration


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