13 July 2011

Paragraphs to Ponder

An oldie but goodie from ASI:

We know that pouring out skills is not one of the key ways in which you generate growth. Look at past experiments. Did the Soviet Union become the greatest economy in the world through a combination of planned allocation of resources and making everyone do engineering and science? No, it didn’t. Take a look at some of the successful economies. Look at Switzerland. It has one of the lowest higher-education enrolment rates in the world, yet it has a fantastic economy. If the economy demands skills and you’ve got a decently responsive higher-education system you’ll end up with an equilibrium situation… You don’t generate growth through number of graduates.

I believe it was Neil Postman who once observed that there is no correlation between educational attainment and economic well-being.  Quite simply, a larger number of college-educated people does not lead to fewer recessions.  And spending more money on education will not make the current depression end sooner.  In fact, it is really quite remarkable that otherwise normally intelligent people seemingly accept without hesitation the somewhat specious assertion that there is a correlation between education and economic growth.  It’s even more remarkable that they conclude causality.

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