Research Handbook on the Sociology of Education
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Research Handbook on the Sociology of Education

Edited by Rolf Becker

Presenting original contributions from the key experts in the field, the Research Handbook on the Sociology of Education explores the major theoretical, methodological, empirical and political challenges and pressing social questions facing education in current times.
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Chapter 25: Knowledge capital and economic growth

Eric A. Hanushek and Ludger Woessmann


The simple perspective in this analysis is that the long-run economic outcomes for countries are directly related to the skills of society. And, enhanced economic mobility and improved distribution of income depend crucially on the level and distribution of skills. The primary impact comes from the relationship of skills to economic growth, although it is important to measure skills appropriately. When skills are measured in terms of knowledge capital – the aggregate cognitive skills of the population – the importance of high-quality schooling becomes clear. In order to provide direct evidence of the importance of knowledge capital, this chapter projects the economic benefits of an overall increase in achievement and of a move towards universal basic skills. The results of these projections show dramatically the dependence of the economy on the improvement of schools.

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