International comparisons of educational attainment

Robert J. Barro, Jong Wha Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

934 Citations (Scopus)


Many theories of economic growth stress the role of human capital in the form of education, but empirical studies have been hampered by inadequate data. We describe a data set on educational attainment for 129 countries over five-year periods from 1960 to 1985. Census/survey figures fill over 40% of the cells, and the remainder are estimated from school-enrollment data by a perpetualinventory method. The data refer to male and female attainment of the adult population at four levels: no schooling, primary, secondary, and higher. We also provide a rough breakdown into incomplete and complete attainment at the three levels of schooling.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)363-394
Number of pages32
JournalJournal of Monetary Economics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1993 Dec

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
*This research has been supported in part by a grant from the National Science Foundation. We are grateful to Birger Fredriksen and George Psacharopoulos for helpful discussions and to the Division of Statistics on Education, UNESCO, for the provision of information.


  • Economic growth
  • Education
  • Human capital formation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Finance
  • Economics and Econometrics


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