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The Evolution of Education: A Macroeconomic Analysis

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  • Diego Restuccia
  • Guillaume Vandenbroucke

Abstract

Between 1940 and 2000 there has been a substantial increase of educational attainment in the United States. What caused this trend? We develop a model of human capital accumulation that features a non-degenerate distribution of educational attainment in the population. We use this framework to assess the quantitative contribution of technological progress and changes in life expectancy in explaining the evolution of educational attainment. The model implies an increase in average years of schooling of 24 percent which is the increase observed in the data. We find that technological variables and in particular skill-biased technical change represent the most important factors in accounting for the increase in educational attainment. The strong response of schooling to changes in income is informative about the potential role of educational policy and the impact of other trends affecting lifetime income.

Suggested Citation

  • Diego Restuccia & Guillaume Vandenbroucke, 2012. "The Evolution of Education: A Macroeconomic Analysis," Working Papers tecipa-464, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:tor:tecipa:tecipa-464
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    Cited by:

    1. Michal burzynski & Christoph Deuster & Frédéric Docquier, 2018. "The Geography of Talent: Development Implications and Long-Run Prospects," Discussion Papers (IRES - Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales) 2018002, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
    2. Diego Restuccia & Guillaume Vandenbroucke, 2013. "The Evolution Of Education: A Macroeconomic Analysis," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 54, pages 915-936, August.
    3. Jeremy Greenwood & Nezih Guner & Georgi Kocharkov & Cezar Santos, 2016. "Technology and the Changing Family: A Unified Model of Marriage, Divorce, Educational Attainment, and Married Female Labor-Force Participation," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 8(1), pages 1-41, January.
    4. He, Hui, 2012. "What drives the skill premium: Technological change or demographic variation?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 56(8), pages 1546-1572.
    5. Davoine, Thomas & Mankart, Jochen, 2017. "Changes in education, wage inequality and working hours over time," Discussion Papers 38/2017, Deutsche Bundesbank.
    6. Thu Dao & Frédéric Docquier & Mathilde Maurel & Pierre Schaus, 2018. "Global Migration in the 20th and 21st Centuries: the Unstoppable Force of Demography," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) hal-01743799, HAL.
    7. Klaus Prettner & Andreas Schaefer, 2016. "Higher education and the fall and rise of inequality," CER-ETH Economics working paper series 16/240, CER-ETH - Center of Economic Research (CER-ETH) at ETH Zurich.
    8. Diego Restuccia & Guillaume Vandenbroucke, 2013. "A Century Of Human Capital And Hours," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 51(3), pages 1849-1866, July.
    9. Todd Schoellman & Lutz Hendricks, 2009. "Student Abilities During the Expansion of U.S. Education, 1950-2000," 2009 Meeting Papers 162, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    10. Brezis, Elise S. & Hellier, Joël, 2018. "Social mobility at the top and the higher education system," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 36-54.
    11. Diego Restuccia & Guillaume Vandenbroucke, 2014. "Explaining Educational Attainment across Countries and over Time," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 17(4), pages 824-841, October.
    12. Hui He, 2011. "Why Have Girls Gone to College? A Quantitative Examination of the Female College Enrollment Rate in the United States: 1955-1980," Annals of Economics and Finance, Society for AEF, vol. 12(1), pages 41-64, May.
    13. John Bailey Jones & Fang Yang, 2016. "Skill-Biased Technical Change and the Cost of Higher Education," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 34(3), pages 621-662.
    14. repec:eee:macchp:v2-3 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Jeremy Greenwood, 2011. "Technology And The Changing Family," 2011 Meeting Papers 1420, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    16. Gonzalo Castex, 2010. "Accounting for Changes in College Attendance Profile: a Quantitative Life-Cycle Analysis," Working Papers Central Bank of Chile 598, Central Bank of Chile.
    17. Diego Restuccia & Guillaume Vandenbroucke, 2014. "Explaining Educational Attainment across Countries and over Time," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 17(4), pages 824-841, October.
    18. Lutz Hendricks, 2010. "Cross-country variation in educational attainment: structural change or within-industry skill upgrading?," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 15(3), pages 205-233, September.
    19. Jones, C.I., 2016. "The Facts of Economic Growth," Handbook of Macroeconomics, Elsevier.
    20. Daniele Coen-Pirani & Rui Castro, 2010. "Public Policy, Technological Change, and the Evolution of Educational Attainment," 2010 Meeting Papers 754, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    21. Keller, Elisa, 2014. "The slowdown in American educational attainment," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 252-270.
    22. Elisa S. Brezis & Joel Hellier, 2016. "Social Mobility and Higher-Education Policy," Working Papers 095, "Carlo F. Dondena" Centre for Research on Social Dynamics (DONDENA), Università Commerciale Luigi Bocconi.

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    Keywords

    educational attainment; schooling; skill-biased technical progress; human capital.;

    JEL classification:

    • E1 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General Aggregative Models
    • O3 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights
    • O4 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity

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