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Human Capital Externalities in Cities


Enrico Moretti


University of California, Berkeley - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

April 2003

NBER Working Paper No. w9641

Abstract:     
What is the effect of an increase in the overall level of human capital on the economy of a city? Although much is known about the private return to education, much less is known about the more important question of what happens to productivity, wages and land prices when the aggregate stock of human capital in a city increases. Increases in the aggregate stock of human capital can benefit society in ways that are not fully reflected in the private return of education. Human capital spillovers can in theory increase aggregate productivity over and above the direct effect of human capital on individual productivity. Furthermore, increases in education can reduce criminal participation and improve voters' political behavior. In this paper, I review what we know about social returns to education, with a particular emphasis on those externalities that accrue to local geographic areas. The focus of the paper is on the empirical issues that arise in identifying these externalities and on the existing empirical evidence on their magnitude. This paper was prepared as a chapter for the forthcoming Handbook of Urban and Regional Economics.

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Date posted: April 25, 2003  

Suggested Citation

Moretti, Enrico, Human Capital Externalities in Cities (April 2003). NBER Working Paper No. w9641. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=398545

Contact Information

Enrico Moretti (Contact Author)
University of California, Berkeley - Department of Economics ( email )
549 Evans Hall #3880
Berkeley, CA 94720-3880
United States
HOME PAGE: http://emlab.berkeley.edu/~moretti/
National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)
P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany
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