December 5, 2023
Written by

Education at the centre of global poverty reduction

Access to schooling has improved dramatically around the world in recent decades. How useful have these investments been in reducing poverty and gender inequality?

Amory Gethin provides the first estimates of the aggregate and distributional effects of global education expansion since 1980. Leveraging a unique microdatabase representative of 95% of the world’s population, a “distributional growth accounting” framework that identifies the effects of schooling on growth and inequality, and complementary evidence from three large-scale schooling expansion policies, he documents three main findings.

  1. Education accounts for at least 50% of global economic growth, 70% of growth among the world’s poorest 20% individuals, and 50% of the reduction in global gender inequality since 1980.
  2. Schooling has become an increasingly powerful source of global inequality reduction, driven by increasing convergence in education levels within and across countries.
  3. Combining the indirect investment benefits of education with the measures of direct government redistribution from its companion paper brings the contribution of public policies to extreme poverty reduction to at least 50%. This puts public policies at the center of the remarkable reduction of global poverty observed in the past decades.


  • Amory Gethin, Paris School of Economics



  •  Press[at]