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THE EVOLUTION OF EDUCATION: A MACROECONOMIC ANALYSIS

Authors

  • DIEGO RESTUCCIA,

    1. University of Toronto, Canada
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  • GUILLAUME VANDENBROUCKE

    1. University of Southern California, U.S.A.
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    • We are grateful for helpful comments from Ken Wolpin and two anonymous referees as well as from Daron Acemoglu, Larry Katz, Gueorgui Kambourov, Burhan Kuruscu, Lutz Hendricks, Richard Rogerson, and seminar participants at several seminars and conferences. Restuccia acknowledges financial support from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. All remaining errors are our own. Please address corresspondence to: Guillaume Vandenbroucke, Department of Economics, University of Southern California, 3260S, Vermont Ave., KAP 300, Los Angeles, CA 90089. Phone: +1 213 740 2098. Fax: +1 213 740 8543. E-mail: vandenbr@usc.edu.


Abstract

Between 1940 and 2000 there was a substantial increase in educational attainment in the United States. What caused this trend? We develop a model of human capital accumulation that features a nondegenerate 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%, 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.

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