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Many Types of Human Capital and Many Roles in U.S. Growth: Evidence from County-level Educational Attainment Data

  • Matthew Higgins
  • Daniel Levy
  • Andrew Young

We utilize county-level data to explore the different roles of different types of human capital accumulation in U.S. growth determination. The data includes over 3,000 cross-sectional observations and 39 demographic control variables. The large number of observations provides enough degrees of freedom to obtain estimates for the U.S. as a whole and for 32 states in and of themselves. This data contains measures of educational attainment for four distinct categories: 1) 9 to 11 years; 2) High school diploma; 3) Some college; and 4) Bachelor degree or more. These variables represent human capital stocks for each and every county. This is a departure from much of the economic growth literature which has (at least in part) relied on extrapolation of stocks from flows, e.g. school enrollment data. We use a consistent two stage least squares estimation procedure. We find that: 1) The percentage of a county's population with less than a high-school education is negatively correlated with economic growth; 2) The percentage obtaining a high school diploma is positively correlated with growth; and 3) The percentage obtaining some college education has no clear relationship with economic growth, but 4) The percentage that obtains a bachelor degree or more is positively correlated with growth. Further, we find that: 5) There is significant qualitative heterogeneity in estimated coefficients across states for the 9 to 11 years and high school diploma categories, but 6) no qualitative heterogeneity for the college level categories. The most consistent conclusion across samples is that the percent of a county's population obtaining a bachelor degree or higher level of college education has a positive relationship with economic growth. Oddly enough, despite findings 2), 4), and 6) above, we find that the percentage of a county's population employed in educational services is negatively correlated with economic growth.

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File URL: http://economics.emory.edu/home/assets/workingpapers/levy_04_02_paper.pdf
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Paper provided by Department of Economics, Emory University (Atlanta) in its series Emory Economics with number 0402.

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Date of creation: Feb 2004
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Handle: RePEc:emo:wp2003:0402
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://economics.emory.edu/home/journals/
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  1. Peter Klenow & Andrés Rodríguez-Clare, 1997. "The Neoclassical Revival in Growth Economics: Has It Gone Too Far?," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1997, Volume 12, pages 73-114 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Barro, Robert J. & Lee, Jong-Wha, 1993. "International comparisons of educational attainment," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 363-394, December.
  3. Michael Marlow, 2001. "Bureaucracy and student performance in US public schools," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 33(10), pages 1341-1350.
  4. T. W. Swan, 1956. "ECONOMIC GROWTH and CAPITAL ACCUMULATION," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 32(2), pages 334-361, November.
  5. Matthew J. Higgins & Daniel Levy & Andrew T. Young, 2005. "Growth and Convergence across the US: Evidence from County-Level Data," Working Papers 2005-06, Bar-Ilan University, Department of Economics.
  6. Barro, R.J. & Sala-I-Martin, X., 1991. "Convergence Across States and Regions," Papers 629, Yale - Economic Growth Center.
  7. Sala-i-Martin, Xavier X., 1996. "Regional cohesion: Evidence and theories of regional growth and convergence," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(6), pages 1325-1352, June.
  8. Tjalling C. Koopmans, 1963. "On the Concept of Optimal Economic Growth," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 163, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  9. Benhabib, Jess & Spiegel, Mark M., 1994. "The role of human capital in economic development evidence from aggregate cross-country data," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(2), pages 143-173, October.
  10. Swan, Trevor W, 2002. "Economic Growth," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 78(243), pages 375-80, December.
  11. Kane, Thomas J & Rouse, Cecilia Elena, 1995. "Labor-Market Returns to Two- and Four-Year College," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(3), pages 600-614, June.
  12. Brian J. Surette, 1997. "The effects of two-year college on the labor market and schooling experiences of young men," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 1997-44, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
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