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Many Types of Human Capital and Many Roles in U.S. Growth: Evidence from County-Level Educational Attainment Data

  • Andrew Young

    (Emory University)

  • Daniel Levy

    (Bar-Ilan University)

  • Matthew Higgins

    (Emory University)

We utilize county-level data to explore the roles of different types of human capital accumulation in U.S. growth determination. The data includes over 3,000 cross-sectional observations and 39 demographic control variables. The large number of observations provides enough degrees of freedom to obtain estimates for the U.S. as a whole and for 32 states in and of themselves. This data contains measures of educational attainment for four distinct categories: (a) 9 to11 years, (b) high school diploma, (c) some college and (d) bachelor degree or more. These variables represent human capital stocks for each and every county. This is a departure from much of the economic growth literature, which has (at least in part) relied on extrapolation of stocks from flows, e.g. school enrollment data. We use a consistent two stage least squares estimation procedure. We find that (i) the percentage of a county’s population with less than a high-school education is negatively correlated with economic growth, (ii) the percentage obtaining a high school diploma is positively correlated with growth, and (iii) the percentage obtaining some college education has no clear relationship with economic growth but (iv) the percentage that obtains a bachelor degree or more is positively correlated with growth. Further, we find that (v) there is significant qualitative heterogeneity in estimated coefficients across states for the 9 to 11 years and high school diploma categories but (vi) no qualitative heterogeneity for the college level categories. The most consistent conclusion across samples is that the percent of a county’s population obtaining a bachelor degree or higher level of college education has a positive relationship with economic growth. Oddly enough, despite findings (ii), (iv) and (vi) above, we find that the percentage of a county’s population employed in educational services is negatively correlated with economic growth.

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File URL: http://128.118.178.162/eps/pe/papers/0403/0403002.pdf
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Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Public Economics with number 0403002.

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Length: 42 pages
Date of creation: 10 Mar 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwppe:0403002
Note: Type of Document - pdf; pages: 42
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://128.118.178.162

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  1. Kane, Thomas J & Rouse, Cecilia Elena, 1995. "Labor-Market Returns to Two- and Four-Year College," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(3), pages 600-614, June.
  2. Brian J. Surette, 1997. "The effects of two-year college on the labor market and schooling experiences of young men," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 1997-44, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  3. Peter Klenow & Andrés Rodríguez-Clare, 1997. "The Neoclassical Revival in Growth Economics: Has It Gone Too Far?," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1997, Volume 12, pages 73-114 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Matthew J. Higgins & Daniel Levy & Andrew T. Young, 2005. "Growth and Convergence across the U.S.: Evidence from County-level Data," Emory Economics 0529, Department of Economics, Emory University (Atlanta).
  5. Benhabib, Jess & Spiegel, Mark M., 1994. "The role of human capital in economic development evidence from aggregate cross-country data," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(2), pages 143-173, October.
  6. Sala-i-Martin, Xavier, 1994. "Regional Cohesion: Evidence and Theories of Regional Growth and Convergence," CEPR Discussion Papers 1075, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Michael Marlow, 2001. "Bureaucracy and student performance in US public schools," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 33(10), pages 1341-1350.
  8. Barro, Robert J & Sala-i-Martin, Xavier, 1992. "Convergence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(2), pages 223-51, April.
  9. Barro, Robert J. & Lee, Jong-Wha, 1993. "International comparisons of educational attainment," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 363-394, December.
  10. Swan, Trevor W, 2002. "Economic Growth," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 78(243), pages 375-80, December.
  11. T. W. Swan, 1956. "ECONOMIC GROWTH and CAPITAL ACCUMULATION," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 32(2), pages 334-361, November.
  12. Robert J. Barro & Xavier Sala-i-Martin, 1991. "Convergence across States and Regions," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 22(1), pages 107-182.
  13. Tjalling C. Koopmans, 1963. "On the Concept of Optimal Economic Growth," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 163, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
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