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There are large between-country differences in measures of economic and noneconomic well-being. Many researchers view increasing the stock of human capital as the key to raising economic development, promoting democratization, and improving health, and hence improving overall societal well-being. The single most studied aspect of human capital concerns cognitive competence. Differences in population cognitive competence might explain these societal differences. Evidence suggests that education builds cognitive competence, and education and cognitive competence promote better social outcomes, in terms of both economic and noneconomic factors. However, measuring population cognitive competence for countries requires representative samples, culture-fair tests, equivalency in the relationship between test measures and other cognitive attributes, and comparability in testing situations. In most cases, none of this has been achieved.
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