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How Closely is the Distribution of Skills Related to Countries' Overall Level of Social Inequality and Economic Prosperity?


  • Dirk Van Damme



A country’s level of human capital – the knowledge and skills in the population – has a strong bearing on its economic potential for growth and prosperity. On the other hand, its level of social inequality might prevent prosperity to be shared in equitable ways across the population. This papers looks at the relationship between the distribution of numeracy skills in the population to measures of economic prosperity (per capita GDP) and social inequality (Gini coefficient). Country-level correlations between various measures of the skills dispersion and these two indicators are presented. The correlations suggest that a higher numeracy skills dispersion is related to higher social inequality. A higher share of low-skilled adults relates positively with greater social inequality, while a higher share of high-skilled adults seems to be related with higher levels of economic output. Le niveau du capital humain dans un pays - les connaissances et les compétences de la population - a une forte influence sur son potentiel de croissance économique et sa prospérité. D'autre part, son niveau d'inégalité sociale pourrait empêcher le partage équitable de la richesse entre tous les groupes de la population. Ce papier se penche sur la relation entre d’une part la répartition des compétences en numératie de la population, et d’autre part des mesures de prospérité économique (PIB par habitant) et d’inégalités sociales (coefficient de Gini). Les corrélations au niveau des pays entre les différentes mesures de la dispersion des compétences et ces deux indicateurs sont présentés. Ces corrélations suggèrent qu’une dispersion plus élevée des compétences en numératie est liée à un niveau d'inégalité sociale plus élevé. Une proportion plus élevée d'adultes peu qualifiés est associée positivement à une plus grande inégalité sociale, tandis qu'un pourcentage plus important d’adultes hautement qualifiés semble être lié à des niveaux plus élevés de production économique.

Suggested Citation

  • Dirk Van Damme, 2014. "How Closely is the Distribution of Skills Related to Countries' Overall Level of Social Inequality and Economic Prosperity?," OECD Education Working Papers 105, OECD Publishing.
  • Handle: RePEc:oec:eduaab:105-en
    DOI: 10.1787/5jxvd5rk3tnx-en

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    Cited by:

    1. Simplice A. Asongu & Nicholas M. Odhiambo & Mushfiqur Rahman, 2023. "Information technology, inequality and adult literacy in developing countries," Working Papers of the African Governance and Development Institute. 23/012, African Governance and Development Institute..
    2. Marco Paccagnella, 2015. "Skills and Wage Inequality: Evidence from PIAAC," OECD Education Working Papers 114, OECD Publishing.
    3. Dries Lens & François Levrau, 2020. "Can Pre-entry Characteristics Account for the Ethnic Attainment Gap? An Analysis of a Flemish University," Research in Higher Education, Springer;Association for Institutional Research, vol. 61(1), pages 26-50, February.

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