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The Long Run Importance of School Quality


  • Eric A. Hanushek


The role of schooling and school quality in the economy has become very confused, in part because of attempts to argue different positions on educational policy. Research demonstrates that school quality has a strong impact on individual earnings, on the distribution of income, and on overall economic growth. In contrast to these long run factors, today's school quality has little to do with current business cycles or unemployment rates. This paper emphasizes the importance of school quality -- measured by math and science test scores -- on economic growth. While U.S. growth has been strong over the 20th century, it has not been the result of high quality schooling relative to that in other countries. Instead other factors such as open labor markets and high quality colleges and universities appear to have masked the mediocre performance by U.S. students.

Suggested Citation

  • Eric A. Hanushek, 2002. "The Long Run Importance of School Quality," NBER Working Papers 9071, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9071
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Pao‐Li Chang & Fali Huang, 2014. "Trade And Divergence In Education Systems," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 55, pages 1251-1280, November.
    2. Rogers, Mark Llewellyn, 2008. "Directly unproductive schooling: How country characteristics affect the impact of schooling on growth," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 52(2), pages 356-385, February.
    3. Ortega, Daniel E., 2010. "The effect of wage compression and alternative labor market opportunities on teacher quality in Venezuela," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(5), pages 760-771, October.
    4. John Richards & Jennifer Hove & Kemi Afolabi, 2008. "Understanding the Aboriginal/Non-Aboriginal Gap in Student Performance: Lessons From British Columbia," C.D. Howe Institute Commentary, C.D. Howe Institute, issue 276, December.
    5. Dankbaar, Ben & Vissers, Geert, 2009. "Of knowledge and work," MPIfG Working Paper 09/16, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies.
    6. Kaoru Nabeshima, 2003. "Raising the quality of secondary education in East Asia," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3140, The World Bank.

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    JEL classification:

    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education
    • H4 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods

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