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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.
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  9. 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.
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  19. Ben S. Bernanke & Refet S. Gürkaynak, 2002. "Is Growth Exogenous? Taking Mankiw, Romer, and Weil Seriously," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2001, Volume 16, pages 11-72 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  26. Peter J. Klenow & Mark Bils, 2000. "Does Schooling Cause Growth?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1160-1183, December.
  27. 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.
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  29. 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.
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