IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Skill and Cross-National Economic Performance


  • Florida, Richard

    (Martin Prosperity Institute)

  • Mellander, Charlotta

    () (CESIS - Centre of Excellence for Science and Innovation Studies, Royal Institute of Technology)


The role of human capital in shaping cross-national economic performance is well-understood. But human capital is an indirect measure of skill, based on educational attainment. We introduce and test a more direct measure of skill, based on work that is actually performed, measured by occupation. Recent empirical studies have shown that such occupational “classes” play an important role in regional economic performance, out-performing human capital in some cases. We develop a measure of occupational skill and examine its relation to in cross-national economic performance. We explicitly compare this measure to conventional measures of human capital (based on educational attainment) through formal models of economic performance for 55 to 78 countries, using three measures of economic performance – economic output (GDP per capita), productivity (total factor productivity) and innovative performance (patents). The results confirm the hypothesis, indicating that our occupation-based measure closely is associated with all three measures of economic performance and also that it consistently performs better than human capital in these models.

Suggested Citation

  • Florida, Richard & Mellander, Charlotta, 2010. "Skill and Cross-National Economic Performance," Working Paper Series in Economics and Institutions of Innovation 220, Royal Institute of Technology, CESIS - Centre of Excellence for Science and Innovation Studies.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:cesisp:0220

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Douglas Gollin, 2002. "Getting Income Shares Right," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(2), pages 458-474, April.
    2. repec:hoo:wpaper:e-95-4 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Simon, Curtis J., 1998. "Human Capital and Metropolitan Employment Growth," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(2), pages 223-243, March.
    4. Glaeser, Edward L. & Scheinkman, JoseA. & Shleifer, Andrei, 1995. "Economic growth in a cross-section of cities," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(1), pages 117-143, August.
    5. Christopher R. Berry & Edward L. Glaeser, 2005. "The Divergence of Human Capital Levels Across Cities," NBER Working Papers 11617, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    skills; creativity; productivity; growth;

    JEL classification:

    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:hhs:cesisp:0220. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Vardan Hovsepyan). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.