Arnold Kling  

Education and Technology

Robin's Dangerous Question... The Best Policy Regarding Bank...

John Merrifield and I write,

We criticize the way that Goldin and Katz talk about "years of schooling" as a continuous variable, when the underlying phenomenon is that the combination of high school graduation rates and college attendance rates increased more slowly after 1970 primarily because of a slowdown in the former, a slowdown which was arithmetically driven by the fact that high school graduation rates can only go up to 100 percent; We criticize the way they break up time periods in a way that buries the productivity acceleration of 1990-2005 . This acceleration is more consistent with the view that technology surged ahead than with the view that growth in skills fell off.

This is from the new issue of Econ Journal Watch.

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COMMENTS (6 to date)
mass writes:

A "continuous variable" is a variable with a continuous distribution. The opposite is a discrete or categorical variable.

It sounds like the quoted author is referring to steady growth rate rather than a continuous distribution.

Sorry to be a nerd about it.

Floccina writes:

I always wonder in education debates why there is so little talk about what it is that people do not know that is hurting them and how to most efficiently get this beneficial knowledge into them.

manuelg writes:


> how to most efficiently get this beneficial knowledge into them.

From my experience, even in a relationship with very high leverage (an employer working with an employee), it is practically impossible to motivate somebody to work on any relative deficits, even if the rewards would be considerable.

Self-satisfaction is a primary human trait.

To a first approximation, in a western democracy, the best we can do is corral and socialize humans until the age of 16 (sometimes the age of 20), and hope they pick up the habit of motivating and improving themselves. If that doesn't happen, then corral them for 50 more years, in institutions differentiated by the tiny amount of liberty they allow.

Arnold Kling writes:

The underlying schooling data is categorical. People are classified as (a) not having finished high school, (b) finished high school but no college, (c) some college, (d) completed college, (e) post-graduate work.

The "years of schooling" variable is artificially created out of this categorical data. I have a lot of problems with that approach.

Steve Sailer writes:

Good article.

The cheapest and most direct tool the government has for impacting the amount of human capital in the populace is immigration policy.

Since Trudeau, Canada has subscribed to a policy of seeking out mercantile minorities from around the world to be immigrants while keeping out the uneducated. That kind of hard-headed thinking is deeply unpopular in the U.s.

mass writes:

Wow, I feel like a bonehead. Thanks for the clarification.

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