Bryan Caplan  

Bok's Economics of Education

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Another Education Bet?... A View from Yale...
If Derek Bok were a labor economist, how would he justify the following passage?  Context: Bok is criticizing accountability standards for higher education.
[T]he measures used are generally too crude to be helpful.  Some of them track outcomes that are largely beyond the college's control, such as how many graduates remain in the state or how many are employed (and at what average salary) a year after graduation. [emphasis mine]
Inquiring minds want to know.


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COMMENTS (2 to date)
blink writes:

Bok's model must be that the glorious effects higher education kick in slowly. While benighted souls quickly accept job offers (and, hence, suffer low rates of initial unemployment) and salivate over high starting salaries, Harvard graduates are more discerning. Due to their superior skills, patience, and lower discount rate, they forego short-term gains and await offers with high salary growth and advancement opportunities.

Brian writes:

The employment and income of college graduates, controlling for major and incoming test scores, are largely independent of which school provided the degree. Podunk Community College and Harvard produce about the same result.

Derek Bok knows that. So why shouldn't he write it?

Presumably Dr. Bok is interested in outcomes that might be measured by less crude grading. Under his charge as president, his university provided an excellent quality of life to students, allowed them freedom to grow their consciousness and plumb the depths of the human soul, offered them a chance to meet suitable mates of the right social class in cozy environs, and helped them network together to build the clubs that would move them to national leadership.

Are these crude tests measuring happiness with the college experience, hookups between classmates, and eventual seats in congress? Do they have a ruler to measure soul depth plumbed and the considered life well lived?

Of course not.

Dr. Bok is right that they simply aren't measuring the things that matter and that a college can provide. Income is just money; education should be a joy.

Our host, if I recall, is the one who says that good parenting won't do anything for life outcomes; it justifies itself solely because it's a pleasure.

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