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The Education Myth by Ricardo Hausmann - Project Syndicate
"In the 50 years from 1960 to 2010, the global labor force’s average time in school essentially tripled, from 2.8 years to 8.3 years. This means that the average worker in a median country went from less than half a primary education to more than half a high school education.

How much richer should these countries have expected to become? In 1965, France had a labor force that averaged less than five years of schooling and a per capita income of $14,000 (at 2005 prices). In 2010, countries with a similar level of education had a per capita income of less than $1,000.

In 1960, countries with an education level of 8.3 years of schooling were 5.5 times richer than those with 2.8 year of schooling. By contrast, countries that had increased their education from 2.8 years of schooling in 1960 to 8.3 years of schooling in 2010 were only 167% richer. Moreover, much of this increase cannot possibly be attributed to education, as workers in 2010 had the advantage of technologies that were 50 years more advanced than those in 1960. Clearly, something other than education is needed to generate prosperity.

As is often the case, the experience of individual countries is more revealing than the averages. China started with less education than Tunisia, Mexico, Kenya, or Iran in 1960, and had made less progress than them by 2010. And yet, in terms of economic growth, China blew all of them out of the water. The same can be said of Thailand and Indonesia vis-à-vis the Philippines, Cameroon, Ghana, or Panama. Again, the fast growers must be doing something in addition to providing education.

The experience within countries is also revealing. In Mexico, the average income of men aged 25-30 with a full primary education differs by more than a factor of three between poorer municipalities and richer ones. The difference cannot possibly be related to educational quality, because those who moved from poor municipalities to richer ones also earned more.

And there is more bad news for the “education, education, education” crowd: Most of the skills that a labor force possesses were acquired on the job. What a society knows how to do is known mainly in its firms, not in its schools. At most modern firms, fewer than 15% of the positions are open for entry-level workers, meaning that employers demand something that the education system cannot – and is not expected – to provide.

When presented with these facts, education enthusiasts often argue that education is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for growth. But in that case, investment in education is unlikely to deliver much if the other conditions are missing. After all, though the typical country with ten years of schooling had a per capita income of $30,000 in 2010, per capita income in Albania, Armenia, and Sri Lanka, which have achieved that level of schooling, was less than $5,000. Whatever is preventing these countries from becoming richer, it is not lack of education.

A country’s income is the sum of the output produced by each worker. To increase income, we need to increase worker productivity. Evidently, “something in the water,” other than education, makes people much more productive in some places than in others. A successful growth strategy needs to figure out what this is.

Make no mistake: education presumably does raise productivity. But to say that education is your growth strategy means that you are giving up on everyone who has already gone through the school system – most people over 18, and almost all over 25. It is a strategy that ignores the potential that is in 100% of today’s labor force, 98% of next year’s, and a huge number of people who will be around for the next half-century. An education-only strategy is bound to make all of them regret having been born too soon.

This generation is too old for education to be its growth strategy. It needs a growth strategy that will make it more productive – and thus able to create the resources to invest more in the education of the next generation. Our generation owes it to theirs to have a growth strategy for ourselves. And that strategy will not be about us going back to school."
economics  policy  education  2015  ricardohausmann  productivity  labor  work  growth  schooling  income  society 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Final Boss Form: An Incomplete List of Interesting Books about Economics
"Here are the three most important books in forming my own worldview on economics.

• Debt: The First 5,000 Years by David Graeber. Before there was money, there was debt. This makes this book a great place to start. One of my favorite books of the last decade.

• The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Economy of Cities, Cities and the Wealth of Nations, and The Nature of Economies by Jane Jacobs. Jane Jacobs was not a traditional economist but her work in understanding how cities operate made me see economies not as a product of nations but as the result of the activity within cities and regions. ‘Death and Life’ and ‘The Economy of Cities’ are so important to me that I gift them to people like missionaries hand out bibles. Here’s a nice writeup of two of her books.

• Civilization and Capitalism (Vol. 1-3) by Fernand Braudel.The single most important book in getting me to understand the connection between capitalism, markets, and everyday life. It also introduced me to the Annales School which is full of interesting ideas. Note: this one is loooooooooong and it took me years to read all three volumes (ok tbh, I’ve read two and half volumes.)

If I were to start reading from scratch, I would start with one or more of these books as an intro. They’re clever and fun and great texts for getting your bearings.

• Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science by Charles Wheelan. A good introduction to general concepts in economics through fantastic storytelling. Check out socoftw's outline of the book here.

• The Little Book of Economics: How the Economy Works in The Real World by Greg Ip. Nice primer. Some bits are a little too FREE MARKET RULEZ! for me but it was also a really good book for me to read. I recommend it because I was able to leap tall-ish articles in a single read after this book.

• The Undercover Economist by Tim Harford. This is the book that explains why your cup of Starbucks costs what it does (among other things.)

These books are a good place to begin thinking critically about conventional economic theory.

• Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner. A clever look at conventional wisdom in economics. Also just a fun read. Also available as an excellent blog, podcast, and twitter feed.

• Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. A summary of three decades of Kahneman’s work in understanding individual behavior in markets. Questions a lot of the “rational behavior” assumptions of neoclassical economics.

• How to Lie with Statistics by Darrell Huff. Statistics are stories told to people as “facts.” Considering how many economic decisions are made based on statistics, it’s important background to know. This book is a classic. (Speaking of facts: I got introduced to this book in high school by none other than George Gallup Jr.)

• The Surprising Design of Market Economies by Alex Marshall. The government builds our markets through property law, taxation, and infrastructure and yet our political conversations purposefully ignore this. This would be lolworthy if not for, you know, people making really bad policy decisions that affect the rest of us.

Okay, now that I’m into this, I want to dive a bit deeper.

• An Engine, Not a Camera by Donald Mackenzie. Finance theory doesn’t exist separate from the economy. By creating a theory of markets, you alter the fate of those markets over and over again.

• Development as Freedom by Amartya Sen. Economic development shouldn’t be seen merely an increase in basic income but as an increase in personal freedom, political freedom, opportunity (including credit), and social security. (Excerpt here.)

• The Work of Nations by Robert Reich. How do you value labor over wealth and reconfigure a workforce for a globalized economy? (I’d also follow his tumblr)

• Capitalism: Its Origins and Evolution as a System of Governance by Bruce R. Scott. A comprehensive look at capitalism and market economies. (Note: this book is sitting on my shelf but I haven’t read it yet.)

These are the books that reflect my current interest in heterodox economics and economic dynamics.

• Capital and Affects: The Politics of the Language Economy by Christian Marazzi. This book was a good introduction to “postfordism” which is a funny word for what comes after an age of industrial, mass market production.

• The Science of Passionate Interests: An Introduction to Gabriel Tarde’s Economic Anthropology by Bruno Latour & Vincent Antonin Lépinay. How do you measure economics not solely in terms of money but as an intensification of passionate interests?

• The Atlas of Economic Complexity by Ricardo Hausmann, CA Hidalgo, et al. Can you predict economic growth based on a measure of “productive” knowledge? Read an overview of the Atlas here. Peep all of the visualizations here and here. (Beware: charts are a highly evolved form of statistics.)

• Complex Economics: Individual and Collective Rationality by Alan Kirman. We make lots of assumptions in our current economic models: rationality, independence, and impersonal interactions. These aren’t based in any mathematical or market truths — they’re just formalisms. So what happens if the purpose of economics wasn’t efficiency but coordination? (Note: this is another book that is sitting on my shelf but I haven’t read it yet.)

Reading Important Old Theorists Is Important Because Everybody Interprets Their Words For Their Own Ends.

• The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith. I suggest reading the whole thing but also understand if you can’t — it’s a long ass book written for an audience from 200 years ago. In that case, the Wikipedia article is a decent summary as long as you follow the links.

• Capital, Vol 1-3 by Karl Marx. I’ve only read Volume 1. Friedrich Engels’ synopsis is a great overview of the basics. The WP article is also a good primer.

• Capitalism and Freedom by Milton Friedman. I would suggest reading the Wikipedia article about him.

• The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money by John Maynard Keynes. Oh, so this is where macroeconomic theory comes from.

Oh yeah, these books are good too.

• Principles of Economics by Greg Mankiw. This is a good 101 read but it’s also an overpriced textbook so look for a used earlier edition that only costs $20 or so. Also browse Greg Mankiw’s blog here.

• The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World by Niall Ferguson. You can also watch the PBS series based on the book here"
books  booklists  economics  2014  kenyattacheese  capitalism  davidgraeber  janejacobs  fernandbraudel  annalesschool  charleswheelan  gregip  timharford  stevenlevitt  stphendubner  danielkahneman  darrellhuff  statistics  alexmarshall  donaldmackenzie  amartyasen  robertreich  brucescott  christianmarazzi  gabrieltarde  brunolatour  vincentantoninlépinay  ricardohausmann  cahidalgo  alankirman  adamsmith  karlmarx  miltonfriedman  johnmaynardkeynes  gregmankiw  niallferguson 
december 2014 by robertogreco

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