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Explaining Educational Attainment across Countries and over Time

  • Guillaume Vandenbroucke

    (University of Iowa)

  • Diego Restuccia

    (University of Toronto)

Consider the following facts. In 1950 rich countries attained an average of 8.1 years of schooling whereas poor countries attained 1.3 years --a 6-fold difference. By 2005, the difference in schooling declined to 2-fold even though the per-capita income gap did not decrease. What explains educational attainment across countries and their evolution over time? We develop a model of human capital accumulation to quantitatively assess the importance of productivity, life expectancy, and growth in explaining educational attainment across countries and over time. Calibrating the parameters of the model to reproduce historical data in the United States, we find that the model accounts for 86 percent of the difference in schooling levels between rich and poor countries in 1950 and 80 percent of the increase in schooling over time in poor countries. The model generates a faster increase in schooling in poor relative to rich economies even if their income gap does not decrease. These results have important implications for educational policy.

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Paper provided by Society for Economic Dynamics in its series 2011 Meeting Papers with number 315.

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Date of creation: 2011
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Handle: RePEc:red:sed011:315
Contact details of provider: Postal: Society for Economic Dynamics Christian Zimmermann Economic Research Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis PO Box 442 St. Louis MO 63166-0442 USA
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