Examining the Long-Haul Relationship between Primary Education and Economic Growth: Evidence from Three Populous Nations

Rachna Tewari, Joey Mehlhorn, Scott D. Parrott


The prominence of early education as a significant source of economic growth has long been an intriguing topic among economists. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between primary education and GDP as a measure of economic growth in China, India, and the U.S, the top three populous nations in the world, and to investigate for plausible reasons leading to the differences observed among the mentioned countries of study. Data derived from the Education Statistics of the World Bank from 1970-2012 were subject to the ordinary least square (OLS) estimation procedure, to obtain regression coefficients as a measure of influence of the study variables on economic growth. Results revealed that for all the three study countries characterized by high populations, an increase in the number of students enrolled in primary education positively impacted economic growth. Mortality rate, primary school graduation age population (female), population aged 0 to 14 as percentage of total population, and primary school enrollment ratio showed significant negative impacts on GDP. Marked differences were revealed for individual country regressions regarding the influence of the study variables on economic growth. Gender related differences in primary education graduating population can be attributed to varied differences in the cultural and social systems among the study countries. Both male and female primary education graduation age population showed no statistical significance on economic growth in the U.S, while for China and India the effects on economic growth were significant with clearly outlined gender related differences in primary education graduation age population. This study builds ground for further research on how the accumulation of human capital through education in these countries will impact the geographical concentration of global economic power in the future.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5296/ire.v4i1.8209


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