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Learning about Education

  • Emerson, Patrick M.

    ()

    (Oregon State University)

  • McGough, Bruce

    ()

    (Oregon State University)

Limited human capital investment is a common characteristic of low-income countries despite the fact that estimated returns to educational investment in low-income countries are generally higher than in high-income countries. Empirical evidence suggests that income and credit constraints can only account for a small part of this underinvestment. Recent experimental evidence shows that families' misperceptions about the returns to education play a large role in their low investment levels. This paper builds a model of human capital and growth that incorporates an adaptive learning mechanism to capture the way agents form perceptions about returns to education. In an economy where human capital investments have both private and public returns, we find multiple learnable equilibria, including those which are characterized by low investment and low returns. We also find that even when the rational equilibrium corresponds to a high level of human capital investment, the learning mechanism, influenced by the agents' priors and cultural bias, may impart low human capital investment for extended periods. Policies that can speed up the learning process are examined and it is found that faster rates of growth can be achieved through interventions.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 5756.

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Length: 45 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5756
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  1. Angel de la Fuente & Rafael Domenech, 2001. "Schooling Data, Technological Diffusion, and the Neoclassical Model," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 323-327, May.
  2. Giovanni Peri & Susana Iranzo, 2006. "Schooling Externalities, Technology and Productivity:Theory and Evidence from U.S. States," Working Papers 635, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
  3. Moretti, Enrico, 2004. "Estimating the social return to higher education: evidence from longitudinal and repeated cross-sectional data," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 121(1-2), pages 175-212.
  4. de Janvry, Alain & Finan, Frederico & Sadoulet, Elisabeth & Vakis, Renos, 2006. "Can conditional cash transfer programs serve as safety nets in keeping children at school and from working when exposed to shocks?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(2), pages 349-373, April.
  5. Psacharopoulos, George & Patrinos, Harry Anthony, 2002. "Returns to investment in education : a further update," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2881, The World Bank.
  6. 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.
  7. Alan B. Krueger & Mikael Lindahl, 2000. "Education for Growth: Why and For Whom?," NBER Working Papers 7591, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Patrick M. Emerson & Andr� Portela Souza, 2011. "Is Child Labor Harmful? The Impact of Working Earlier in Life on Adult Earnings," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 59(2), pages 345 - 385.
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