Journal of Economic Growth

, Volume 15, Issue 3, pp 205–233

Cross-country variation in educational attainment: structural change or within-industry skill upgrading?


DOI: 10.1007/s10887-010-9055-9

Cite this article as:
Hendricks, L. J Econ Growth (2010) 15: 205. doi:10.1007/s10887-010-9055-9


Educational attainment varies greatly across countries and within countries over time. This paper asks whether the variation in education is primarily due to industry composition or to within-industry skill intensities. The main finding is that within-industry variation accounts for at least two-thirds of the cross-country and the time-series variation in educational attainment. The within-industry education gaps are broadly consistent with a model of industry neutral cross-country differences in skilled labor productivity. These results suggest that theories of educational development should focus on skill upgrading within industries rather than structural change.


Education Skill bias Industry specialization 

JEL Classification

I2 J24 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA
  2. 2.CESifoMunichGermany
  3. 3.CFSFrankfurtGermany

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