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The Kuznets curve of human capital inequality: 1870–2010


This paper describes the long-term global trends in education inequality since 1870. Inequality in years of schooling is shown to have mechanically decreased along with the decline in the share of illiterate people. In search of a monetary equivalent of years of schooling, we turn to Mincer (1974) human capital ineq uality. Within countries, we find evidence of an inverted U-shape curve for human capital inequality over time, namely a Kuznets curve for human capital. At the global level, the world inequality in human capital has followed a similar trajectory, first increasing from 1870 to 1970, then decreasing.

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Correspondence to Fabrice Murtin.

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Morrisson, C., Murtin, F. The Kuznets curve of human capital inequality: 1870–2010. J Econ Inequal 11, 283–301 (2013).

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  • Inequality
  • Human capital
  • Education
  • Kuznets curve

JEL Classifications

  • D31
  • E27
  • F02
  • N00
  • O40