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CEP Discussion Paper
The Century of Education
Christian Morrisson and Fabrice Murtin
June 2009
Paper No' CEPDP0934:
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JEL Classification: D31; E27; F02; N00; O40

Tags: inequality; human capital; economic history; copula function

This paper presents a historical database on educational attainment in 74 countries for the period 1870-2010, using perpetual inventory methods before 1960 and then the Cohen and Soto (2007) database. The correlation between the two sets of average years of schooling in 1960 is equal to 0.96. We use a measurement error framework to merge the two databases, while correcting for a systematic measurement bias in Cohen and Soto (2007) linked to differential mortality across educational groups. Descriptive statistics show a continuous spread of education that has accelerated in the second half of the twentieth century. We find evidence of fast convergence in years of schooling for a sub-sample of advanced countries during the 1870-1914 globalization period, and of modest convergence since 1980. Less advanced countries have been excluded from the convergence club in both cases.