Returns to Education in Developing Countries
Evidence from the Living Standards and Measurement Study Surveys
Published in: Economics of Education Review, v. 49, Dec. 2015, p. 69-90
Posted on RAND.org on November 18, 2015
We use 61 nationally representative household surveys from 25 developing countries between 1985 and 2012 to assess whether returns to education are systematically higher in developing countries, and to investigate whether recent increases in access to human and physical capital have altered returns. We find no evidence of systematic "excess returns" in developing countries, and estimate an average return to schooling in the represented countries of 7.6%. We also do not find evidence of systematic changes in returns over the past two decades. Overall, returns appear highly heterogeneous, with lower returns in rural areas, higher returns for females than males, and higher returns in the regions of Africa and Latin American than in Asia and Eastern Europe.
This report is part of the RAND Corporation External publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.
The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.