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Growth, distance to frontier and composition of human capital

  • Jérôme Vandenbussche
  • Philippe Aghion

    (Institute for Fiscal Studies and Harvard University)

  • Costas Meghir

    (Institute for Fiscal Studies and Yale University)

We examine the contribution of human capital to economy-wide technological improvements through the two channels of innovation and imitation. We develop a theoretical model showing that skilled labor has a higher growth-enhancing effect closer to the technological frontier under the reasonable assumption that innovation is a relatively more skillintensive activity than imitation. Also, we provide evidence in favor of this prediction using a panel dataset covering 19 OECD countries between 1960 and 2000 and explain why previous empirical research had found no positive relationship between initial schooling level and subsequent growth in rich countries. In particular, we show that in OECD economies it is crucial to isolate the two separate margins of primary/secondary and tertiary education. Interestingly, the latter type of schooling proves to be a factor of economic divergence.

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Paper provided by Institute for Fiscal Studies in its series IFS Working Papers with number W04/31.

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Length: 51 pp.
Date of creation: Aug 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ifs:ifsewp:04/31
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  1. Cohen, Daniel & Soto, Marcelo, 2001. "Growth and Human Capital: Good Data, Good Results," CEPR Discussion Papers 3025, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Barro, Robert J & Lee, Jong-Wha, 2001. "International Data on Educational Attainment: Updates and Implications," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 53(3), pages 541-63, July.
  3. Zilibotti, Fabrizio & Aghion, Philippe & Acemoglu, Daron, 2006. "Distance to Frontier, Selection, and Economic Growth," Scholarly Articles 4554122, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  4. Desdoigts, Alain, 2000. "Neoclassical convergence versus technological catch-up: A contribution for reaching a consensus," SFB 373 Discussion Papers 2000,42, Humboldt University of Berlin, Interdisciplinary Research Project 373: Quantification and Simulation of Economic Processes.
  5. Andrea Bassanini & Stefano Scarpetta, 2001. "Does Human Capital Matter for Growth in OECD Countries?: Evidence from Pooled Mean-Group Estimates," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 282, OECD Publishing.
  6. Douglas Gollin, 2002. "Getting Income Shares Right," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(2), pages 458-474, April.
  7. Philippe Aghion & Nicholas Bloom & Richard Blundell & Rachel Griffith & Peter Howitt, 2002. "Competition and innovation: an inverted U relationship," IFS Working Papers W02/04, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  8. Daron Acemoglu, 2000. "Technical Change, Inequality, and the Labor Market," NBER Working Papers 7800, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. F. Zilibotti & P. Aghion & R. Burgess, 2004. "The Unequal Effects of Trade Liberalization: Theory and Evidence from India," 2004 Meeting Papers 40, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  10. Alan Krueger & Mikael Lindahl, 2000. "Education for Growth: Why and For Whom?," Working Papers 808, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  11. Topel, Robert, 1999. "Labor markets and economic growth," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 44, pages 2943-2984 Elsevier.
  12. Paul Romer, 1989. "Endogenous Technological Change," NBER Working Papers 3210, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  15. Acemoglu, Daron, 1996. "A Microfoundation for Social Increasing Returns in Human Capital Accumulation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(3), pages 779-804, August.
  16. Ben S. Bernanke & Refet S. Gurkaynak, 2001. "Is Growth Exogenous? Taking Mankiw, Romer and Weil Seriously," NBER Working Papers 8365, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. de la Fuente, Angel & Doménech, Rafael, 2002. "Human Capital in Growth Regressions: How Much Difference Does Data Quality Make? An Update and Further Results," CEPR Discussion Papers 3587, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  18. Mankiw, N Gregory & Romer, David & Weil, David N, 1992. "A Contribution to the Empirics of Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(2), pages 407-37, May.
  19. Peter J. Klenow & Mark Bils, 2000. "Does Schooling Cause Growth?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1160-1183, December.
  20. World Bank, 2002. "World Development Indicators 2002," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 13921.
  21. Azariadis, Costas & Drazen, Allan, 1990. "Threshold Externalities in Economic Development," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(2), pages 501-26, May.
  22. Kalaitzidakis, Pantelis, et al, 2001. " Measures of Human Capital and Nonlinearities in Economic Growth," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 6(3), pages 229-54, September.
  23. Caselli, Francesco & Esquivel, Gerardo & Lefort, Fernando, 1996. " Reopening the Convergence Debate: A New Look at Cross-Country Growth Empirics," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 1(3), pages 363-89, September.
  24. Richard R. Nelson & Edmond S. Phelps, 1965. "Investment in Humans, Technological Diffusion and Economic Growth," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 189, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  25. Robert J. Barro, 2001. "Human Capital and Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 12-17, May.
  26. 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.
  27. 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.
  28. Nickell, Stephen J, 1981. "Biases in Dynamic Models with Fixed Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 49(6), pages 1417-26, November.
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