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Learning about Education

Author

Listed:
  • Emerson, Patrick M.

    () (Oregon State University)

  • McGough, Bruce

    () (Oregon State University)

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Emerson, Patrick M. & McGough, Bruce, 2011. "Learning about Education," IZA Discussion Papers 5756, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5756
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Patrick M. Emerson & André 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.
    2. 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.
    3. Mikael Lindahl & Alan B. Krueger, 2001. "Education for Growth: Why and for Whom?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 39(4), pages 1101-1136, December.
    4. 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.
    5. George Psacharopoulos & Harry Anthony Patrinos, 2004. "Returns to investment in education: a further update," Education Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 12(2), pages 111-134.
    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. Susana Iranzo & Giovanni Peri, 2009. "Schooling Externalities, Technology, and Productivity: Theory and Evidence from U.S. States," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 91(2), pages 420-431, May.
    8. 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.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    growth; education; learning;

    JEL classification:

    • O40 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - General
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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