Direct measures of labor-force quality from international mathematics and science test scores are strongly related to growth. Indirect specification tests are generally consistent with a causal link: direct spending on schools is unrelated to student performance differences; the estimated growth effects of improved labor-force quality hold when East Asian countries are excluded; and, finally, home-country quality differences of immigrants are directly related to U.S. earnings if the immigrants are educated in their own country but not in the United States. The last estimates of micro productivity effects, however, introduce uncertainty about the magnitude of the growth effects.
Schooling, Labor Force Quality, and the Growth of Nations
American Economic Review