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Economic Gains from Educational Reform by US States

There is limited evidence justifying the economic case for state education policy. Using new measures of workers’ cognitive skills that allow for selective internal migration and foreign immigration, we provide preliminary estimates of growth regressions that incorporate worker skills. Our descriptive models show that educational achievement predicts economic growth across US states over the past four decades. Projections from our growth models show the substantial potential scope for state economic development through improving school quality. While we consider the impact of a range of educational reforms, an improvement that moves each state to the best-state level would in the aggregate yield an estimated present value of long-run gains of 8 percent of discounted future GDP.