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This paper considers the relationship between institutional quality, educational outcomes, and economic performance. More specifically, it seeks to establish the linkages by which government effectiveness affects per capita income, via its mediating effect on human capital formation. The empirical approach adopts a two-stage strategy that estimates national-level educational production functions that include government effectiveness as a covariate, and then uses these estimates as instruments for human capital in cross-country regressions of per capita income. The results identify a significant and positive effect of human capital on per capita income levels, and partially resolves the inconsistency between macro- and micro-level studies of the effect of human capital on income. The results also remain robust to alternative specifications, extension to a panel setting, subsamples of the data, and fully endogenous institutions.