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Early literacy achievements, population density and the transition to modern growth

  • BOUCEKKINE, Raouf
  • PEETERS, Dominique
  • de la CROIX, David

The transition from economic stagnation to sustained growth is often modelled thanks to “population-induced” productivity improvements, which are assumed rather than derived from primary assumptions. In this paper the effect of population on productivity is derived from optimal behavior. More precisely, both the number and location of education facilities are chosen optimally by municipalities. Individuals determine their education investment depending on the distance to the nearest school, and also on technical progress and longevity. In this setting, higher population density enables the set-up costs of additional schools to be covered, opening the possibility to reach higher educational levels. Using conterfactual experiments we find that one third of the rise in literacy can be directly attributed to the effect of density, while one sixth is linked to higher longevity and one half to technical progress. Moreover, the effect of population density in the model is consistent with the available evidence from England, where it is shown that schools were established at a high rate over the period 1540-1620.

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File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1162/JEEA.2007.5.1.183
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Paper provided by Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE) in its series CORE Discussion Papers RP with number -1911.

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Handle: RePEc:cor:louvrp:-1911
Note: In : Journal of the European Economic Association, 5(1), 183-226, 2007
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  1. Boucekkine, Raouf & de la Croix, David & Licandro, Omar, 2000. "Vintage Human Capital, Demographic Trends and Endogenous Growth," Discussion Papers (IRES - Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales) 2000007, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
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  5. BOUCEKKINE, Raouf & DE LA CROIX, David & LICANDRO, Omar, . "Early mortality declines at the dawn of modern growth," CORE Discussion Papers RP -1681, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
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  16. Hazan, Moshe & Zoabi, Hosny, 2005. "Does Longevity Cause Growth?," CEPR Discussion Papers 4931, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  18. Nils-Petter Lagerlöf, 2003. "From Malthus to Modern Growth: Can Epidemics Explain the Three Regimes?," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 44(2), pages 755-777, 05.
  19. Kelley, Allen C. & Schmidt, Robert M., 1995. "Aggregate Population and Economic Growth Correlations: The Role of the Components of Demographic Change," Working Papers 95-37, Duke University, Department of Economics.
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