Munich Personal RePEc Archive

The Cultural Roots of Human Capital Accumulation

van Hoorn, Andre (2016): The Cultural Roots of Human Capital Accumulation.

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Abstract

While the accumulation of human capital is widely recognized as a key driver of economic development, what drives cross-country differences in human capital accumulation remains little understood. I use an epidemiological approach involving migrants to test for a possible cultural gradient in individuals’ propensity towards human capital accumulation. However, advancing on traditional macro-focused epidemiological culture research, I also explore a specific micro-level channel through which country-of-origin culture affects human capital accumulation involving culture’s effect on individuals’ dispositions. Results confirm a cultural gradient in the propensity towards human capital accumulation. Moreover, part of the effect of culture on migrants’ propensity towards human capital accumulation runs through migrants’ personal dispositions. Finally, culture’s effect on human capital accumulation traces back to cultural differences in emphasis on intellectual autonomy and future orientation. I conclude that understanding countries’ differential development experiences requires detailed study of the various micro channels through which culture can have macroeconomic consequences.

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