Education, hard work & economic freedom

David Brooks in the NY Times Op-Ed piece on July 29th, says that the US became the leading econmic power of the 20th century because of the “ferocious belief that people have the power to transform their own lives (which) gave Americans an unparalleled commitment to education, hard work and economic freedom.”

He cites the gigantic global lead taken in US education levels which boosted productivity and growth. That “happy era ended around 1970 when America’s educational progress slowed to a crawl. (…) Since then, progress has been modest. America’s lead over its economic rivals has been entirely forfeited with many nations surging ahead in school attainment.”

Quoting Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz in their book, “The Race Between Education and Technology” he notes that the slowing and subsequent stagnation of educational attainment increases the gap between rich and poor. “The relatively few skilled workers command higher prices, while the many unskilled ones have little bargaining power.”

He concludes that “this slow-moving problem, more than any other, will shape the destiny of the nation. (…) It’s not globalization or immigration or computers per se that widen inequality. It’s the skills gap. Boosting educational attainment at the bottom ois more promisng than trying to reorganize the global economy.”

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