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Specifying Human Capital: A Review, Some Extensions, and Development Effects

  • Ludger Wößmann

A review of the measures of the stock of human capital used in empirical growth research reveals that human capital is mostly poorly proxied. The simple use of the most common proxy, average years of schooling of the working-age population, misspecifies the relationship between education and the stock of human capital. Based on human capital theory, the specification of human capital should be extended to allow for decreasing returns to education and for differences in the quality of a year of education. Cross-country differences in quality-adjusted human capital can account for about half the world-wide dispersion of levels of economic development and for virtually all the development differences across OECD countries.

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Paper provided by Kiel Institute for the World Economy in its series Kiel Working Papers with number 1007.

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Date of creation: Oct 2000
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Handle: RePEc:kie:kieliw:1007
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  8. Card, David, 1999. "The causal effect of education on earnings," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 30, pages 1801-1863 Elsevier.
  9. Robert J. Barro, 1996. "Determinants of Economic Growth: A Cross-Country Empirical Study," NBER Working Papers 5698, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Daron Acemoglu & Joshua Angrist, 2001. "How Large are Human-Capital Externalities? Evidence from Compulsory-Schooling Laws," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2000, Volume 15, pages 9-74 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  12. Behrman, Jere R. & Rosenzweig, Mark R., 1994. "Caveat emptor: Cross-country data on education and the labor force," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(1), pages 147-171, June.
  13. Chiswick, Barry R., 1997. "Interpreting the coefficient of schooling in the human capital earnings function," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1790, The World Bank.
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  16. 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.
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