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Cultural determinants of human capital accumulation: Evidence from the European Social Survey

André van Hoorn

Journal of Comparative Economics, 2019, vol. 47, issue 2, 429-440

Abstract: Although economists commonly view the accumulation of human capital as a key driver of economic development, what drives cross-country differences in human capital accumulation remains poorly understood. I use an epidemiological approach involving second-generation migrants to test for a possible cultural gradient in individuals’ propensity towards human capital accumulation. Results indicate a strong relationship between country-of-origin culture and human capital accumulation and are robust to using years of education instead of individuals’ engagement in human capital accumulation as the dependent variable. Drawing on dimensions of cultural differences identified in culture frameworks developed by cross-cultural researchers, results further suggest that cultural emphasis on intellectual autonomy helps explain part of the observed differences in human capital accumulation. However, further work is needed to complete our understanding of the cultural roots of individuals’ propensity towards human capital accumulation.

Keywords: Culture; Skill accumulation; Epidemiological approach; Intellectual autonomy (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I20 O11 Z10 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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