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Human Capital, Economic Growth, and Public Expenditure

Publication | January 2020
Human Capital, Economic Growth, and Public Expenditure

The effective tax rate is low in poor countries because tax collection requires human capital, which is scarce.

To understand the weak empirical relationship between human capital and macroeconomic performance, we present a model in which human capital is allocated to three activities: production, tax collection (bureaucracy), and public education. The effective tax rate is low in poor countries because tax collection requires human capital, which is scarce. Throughout the transition, the effective tax rate rises, which involves a diversion of human capital from production to bureaucracy and public education. Consequently, human capital has a weak effect on production, even when human capital is efficiently allocated. Differences in institutional quality may involve a spurious negative correlation between gross domestic product and human capital.

WORKING PAPER NO: 1066