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Education as a driver of income inequality in twentieth-century Africa

  • Van Leeuwen, Bas
  • van Leeuwen-Li, Jieli
  • Foldvari, Peter

In this paper, we address the issue of how education affected income inequality in twentieth-century Africa. Three channels are identified through which education may affect income inequality. First, an increase in the average educational level is correlated with an increase in average income, which, ceteris paribus, reduces inequality. Second, a reduction in educational inequality may, given a positive correlation between education level and income, reduce income inequality. Thirdly, an increase in the supply of education may decrease the price of skilled labour thus lowering income inequality. We find that in the long-run education does not affect income growth, indicating that in twentieth-century Africa it was inspiration (i.e., Total Factor Productivity [TFP]) rather than perspiration (i.e., education and physical capital) that drove economic development. Testing for the effects of the remaining two channels, we found a significant non-linear relationship between educational and income inequality suggesting that, contrary to the level of education, these two channels were important in determining income inequality in Africa. Taking an example from the end of the twentieth century, if educational equality had been eliminated, then income inequality would decline by no less than 81%.

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 43574.

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Date of creation: 20 Oct 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:43574
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  1. B. Leeuwen & P. Földvári, 2011. "Capital accumulation and growth in Hungary, 1924–2006," Acta Oeconomica, Akadémiai Kiadó, Hungary, vol. 61(2), pages 143-164, June.
  2. Van Leeuwen, Bas & van Leeuwen-Li, Jieli & Foldvari, Peter, 2011. "Regional human capital in Republican and New China: Its spread, quality and effects on economic growth," MPRA Paper 43582, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  3. Luis Angeles, 2007. "GDP per capita or Real Wages? Making sense of coflicting views on pre-industrial Europe," Working Papers 2007_11, Business School - Economics, University of Glasgow.
  4. Ewout Frankema & Marlous van Waijenburg, 2011. "African Real Wages in Asian Perspective, 1880-1940," Working Papers 0002, Utrecht University, Centre for Global Economic History.
  5. Psacharopoulos, George & Patrinos, Harry Anthony, 2002. "Returns to investment in education : a further update," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2881, The World Bank.
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  7. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1988. "On the mechanics of economic development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 3-42, July.
  8. Jutta Bolt & Dirk Bezemer, 2009. "Understanding Long-Run African Growth: Colonial Institutions or Colonial Education?," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 45(1), pages 24-54.
  9. Mahadevan, Renuka, 2007. "Perspiration versus inspiration: Lessons from a rapidly developing economy," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 331-347, April.
  10. Amparo Castello & Rafael Domenech, 2002. "Human Capital Inequality and Economic Growth: Some New Evidence," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(478), pages C187-C200, March.
  11. Theo Eicher & Cecilia García-Peñalosa & Tanguy Ypersele, 2009. "Education, corruption, and the distribution of income," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 14(3), pages 205-231, September.
  12. repec:oup:qjecon:v:117:y:2002:i:4:p:1231-1294 is not listed on IDEAS
  13. Bas van Leeuwen & Peter Földvári, 2013. "Capital Accumulation and Growth in Central Europe, 1920-2006," Eastern European Economics, M.E. Sharpe, Inc., vol. 51(5), pages 69-93, September.
  14. repec:oup:qjecon:v:114:y:1999:i:1:p:83-116 is not listed on IDEAS
  15. Paul M Romer, 1999. "Endogenous Technological Change," Levine's Working Paper Archive 2135, David K. Levine.
  16. Robert E. Hall & Charles I. Jones, 1999. "Why Do Some Countries Produce So Much More Output per Worker than Others?," NBER Working Papers 6564, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Yousef, Tarik M, 2002. "Egypt's Growth Performance under Economic Liberalism: A Reassessment with New GDP Estimates, 1886-1945," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 48(4), pages 561-79, December.
  18. Milanovic, Branko, 1997. "A simple way to calculate the Gini coefficient, and some implications," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 56(1), pages 45-49, September.
  19. Ewout H.P. Frankema, 2012. "The origins of formal education in sub-Saharan Africa: was British rule more benign?," European Review of Economic History, Oxford University Press, vol. 16(4), pages 335-355, November.
  20. Nehru, Vikram & Swanson, Eric & Dubey, Ashutosh, 1995. "A new database on human capital stock in developing and industrial countries: Sources, methodology, and results," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 379-401, April.
  21. Jan Luiten van Zanden & Joerg Baten & Peter Foldvari & Bas van Leeuwen, 2011. "The Changing Shape of Global Inequality - exploring a new dataset," Working Papers 0001, Utrecht University, Centre for Global Economic History.
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