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Human Capital Policies: What they Can and Cannot Do for Productivity and Poverty Reduction in Latin America

  • Suzanne Duryea
  • Carmen Pagés-Serra

    ()

Raising labor productivity is recognized as a critical factor for increasing economic growth and reducing poverty levels in Latin America. Low levels of education continue to be singled out as the main obstacle to higher productivity in the region. We examine the scope for education to lift labor incomes above poverty levels in Latin America and find that in many countries education, by itself, has a positive, but limited, potential to increase wages above a minimum level. In general, the prospects are dim because progress in raising average schooling levels has been slow even under the best historical scenarios. We also examine whether the apparent failure of education can be explained by low wage returns to schooling, and poor underlying conditions. We find that investments in education continue to have important payoffs but poor underlying conditions explain the modest prospect for the role of education in the short run. This leads us to consider what additional policies should be pursued in order to ensure higher productivity for workers in the region.

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Paper provided by Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department in its series Research Department Publications with number 4297.

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Date of creation: Apr 2002
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Handle: RePEc:idb:wpaper:4297
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  1. Robert E. Hall & Charles I. Jones, 1999. "Why Do Some Countries Produce So Much More Output per Worker than Others?," NBER Working Papers 6564, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Anne Case & Motohiro Yogo, 1999. "Does School Quality Matter? Returns to Education and the Characteristics of Schools in South Africa," NBER Working Papers 7399, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Kristin Mammen & Christina Paxson, 2000. "Women's Work and Economic Development," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(4), pages 141-164, Fall.
  4. David Card & Alan B. Krueger, 1996. "School Resources and Student Outcomes: An Overview of the Literature and New Evidence from North and South Carolina," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(4), pages 31-50, Fall.
  5. Alan Krueger & Mikael Lindahl, 2000. "Education for Growth: Why and For Whom?," Working Papers 808, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  6. Arturo Galindo, 2001. "Creditor Rights and the Credit Market: Where Do We Stand?," Research Department Publications 4259, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
  7. Kaufmann, Daniel & Kraay, Aart & Zoido-Lobaton, Pablo, 1999. "Aggregating governance indicators," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2195, The World Bank.
  8. Behrman, Jere R & Birdsall, Nancy, 1983. "The Quality of Schooling: Quantity Alone is Misleading," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(5), pages 928-46, December.
  9. Carlos Medina & Jairo Núñez, 2005. "The Impact of Public and Private Job Training in Colombia," Research Department Publications 3177, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
  10. Miguel Székely, 2001. "The 1990s in Latin America: Another Decade of Persistent Inequality, but with Somewhat Lower Poverty," Research Department Publications 4271, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
  11. Peter J. Klenow & Mark Bils, 2000. "Does Schooling Cause Growth?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1160-1183, December.
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