Bryan Caplan and David Henderson

Economics of Education

A Category Archive (604 entries)

Education Bet Update

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
In 2011, my co-blogger David and I bet on the future of higher education.  The terms:I propose that we use the official numbers from the National Center for Education Statistics' Table 212.  2009 is the latest available year of data. ... MORE

Practical Guidance for Prudent Students

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
The Case Against Education's chapter on the selfish return to education runs over sixty pages.  Since I suspect that even eager readers may skim all the tables, I end with practical advice in plain English.  Note: Nothing in this section... MORE

Grade deflation, grade illusion, and academic depressions

Economics of Education
Scott Sumner
Standard monetary theory says that changes in the money supply and prices are neutral under certain circumstances, such as in the very long run, and also after monetary reforms where all contracts are automatically adjusted to the change in the... MORE

Do Credential Scandals Support the Signaling Model?

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Every now and then, the world suddenly learns that a perfectly competent worker faked his credentials.  Consider the case of MIT's former head of admissions:Marilee Jones, the dean of admissions at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology... admitted that she had... MORE

How I Teach When I Really Want My Students to Learn

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
A month ago, my eleven-year-old sons still didn't know how to tie their shoes.  I volunteered to teach them.  As a professional educator, I was tempted to teach shoe-tying the same way I teach econ: With a scintillating lecture.  Since... MORE

SMBC Features The Greatest Commencement Ever

Economics of Education
Art Carden
The webcomic Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal gets it. Spoiler alert: there's signaling. I would love to see Bryan Caplan hit the commencement speaker circuit. After Michael Lind called him "Libertarians' scary new star," invitations might be forthcoming.... MORE

Frank on Phony Credentials

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Thomas Frank's essay on phony credentials is engaging throughout.  Lead-in: Americans have figured out that universities exist in order to man the gates of social class, and we pay our princely tuition rates in order to obtain just one thing:... MORE

Frankly Signaling

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Within economics, the idea that education has a larger effect on income than productivity is vaguely right-wing.  Why?  Because economists realize that this premise undermines the textbook efficiency case for governments' massive education subsidies.Outside economics, however, the idea that education... MORE

How People Get Good at Their Jobs

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
From The Case Against Education: Normal 0 MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 How People Get Good At Their Jobs If schools teach few job skills, transfer of learning is mostly wishful thinking, and the effect of education on intelligence is largely hollow, how on... MORE

Three Graphs About Trying and Failing

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
The true return to college heavily depends on the probability of successful completion.  That probability in turn heavily depends on pre-college academic performance.  How heavily?  Check out these three graphs from Bound, Lovenheim, and Turner's "Why Have College Completion Rates... MORE

Try Harder or Do Something Easier?

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
A friend tells you, "I'm thinking of starting a restaurant.  Advise me."  You know that about 60% of new restaurants fail in their first three years - and have no reason to think that your friend would be anything other... MORE

Crude Self-Interest: Why Kids Go to College

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Economists tend to dogmatically reduce human behavior to crude self-interest.  They're often deeply wrong.  Sometimes, though, the shoe fits.  UCLA's Higher Education Research Institute has been asking kids why they're going to college for a long time.  In recent decades,... MORE

Water Runs Downhill, and School Is Boring

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Lately I've been reading everything I can on how people feel when they're in school.  The evidence is thin, but confirms the obvious: Most people find school super-boring.  The High School Survey of Student Engagement is probably the single best... MORE

A British Perspective on American Signaling

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Fun footnote from Gregory Clark's new The Son Also Rises: Normal 0 MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 In my second year as an assistant professor at Stanford University, I was assigned the task of mentoring six freshmen.  Each appeared on paper to have an... MORE

The Marital Return to Education: An Epiphany

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Suppose college graduates out-earn high school grads by $30,000 a year.  Naive analysts will tell you, "Finish college and you'll get a $30,000 raise."  The clever, however, will warn you about ability bias.  The kind of people who become college... MORE

For-profit schools have a bad reputation. The bad apples spend a bundle on recruiting marginal students and then leave them with crushing debt and poor job prospects. Many for-profit schools generate the majority of their revenue from Title IV... MORE

Public schools provide education free of charge.  The result, unsurprisingly, is overwhelming market dominance.  Almost 90% of school-age kids attend public school.  Most people think this is a great thing.  Maybe they're right, maybe they're wrong.  Either way, though, public... MORE

Bans Against Headscarves Can Backfire

Economics of Education
James Schneider
Modesty is usually imposed rather than prohibited. However, some countries place restrictions on the Islamic practice of wearing headscarves. Although the French restriction against religious symbols in public schools is not technically directed against Muslims in particular, many view it... MORE

Ambition Revisited

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
I just ran across some more striking evidence that ambition really matters.  James Rosenbaum's "College-For-All: Do Students Understand What College Demands?" (Social Psychology of Education, 1998) shows degree completion as a function of high school students' GPA and educational aspirations.Exhibit... MORE

Ballparking the Marital Return to College

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
When education correlates with a good outcome, labor economists are usually eager to publicize the fact.  There is, however, one glaring exception.  Labor economists rarely announce that the well-educated are more likely to marry a well-educated spouse - and capture... MORE

What Bad Students Know that Good Economists Don't

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
The college premium skyrocketed over the last three decades.  B.A.s now out-earn high school grads by 70-80%.*  College graduation, in contrast, barely rose.  In econospeak, the supply of college graduates looks bizarrely price-inelastic.Over the last two months, I've read virtually... MORE

Pritchett on Private vs. Government Schools

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
From The Rebirth of Education:Whereas formerly only the elite may have gone to private schools, there has been a massive proliferation of private schools, especially in Asia and Africa.  These budget-level private schools are producing better learning outcomes, often substantially... MORE

Over at TheMoneyIllusion I used to do occasional stories on why China will not get stuck in the middle income trap. Here's another interesting piece of evidence: BEIJING (Reuters) - Zhong Jian and his wife are willing to pay... MORE

Schooling Ain't Learning, But It Is Money

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Lant Pritchett is enjoying justified praise for his new The Rebirth of Education: Schooling Ain't Learning.  His central thesis: schooling has exploded in the Third World, but literacy and numeracy remain wretched.  The average Haitian and Bangladeshi today have more... MORE

What's Wrong With IVs? [wonkish]

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
Labor economists love using instrumental variables - like your distance to the nearest college - to estimate the education premium.  Heckman, Lochner, and Todd point out a recurring problem with this approach:[M]ost of the candidates for instrumental variables in the... MORE

Self-Help: The Obvious Remedy for Academic Malemployment

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Megan McArdle surveys the harsh realities of academic malemployment, then despairs:A substantial fraction -- maybe the majority -- of PhD programs really shouldn't exist.But of course, this is saying that universities, and tenured professors, should do something that is radically... MORE

Tell Me How It Feels to Be a Bad Student

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Being a bad student must be a miserable experience.  Teachers, parents, and other kids point out your failings day after day.  Even if they sugarcoat their negative feedback ("Billy needs to improve in... everything"), that's gotta hurt.Why then do we... MORE

People with more education don't just make more money if they have jobs; they're more likely to have jobs in the first place.  As a result, the earnings premium now greatly exceeds the wage premium.  Consider the following caricature approximation... MORE

Should We Forgive Student Loan Debt?

Economics of Education
Art Carden
David Pritchard kindly directed me to this April 2012 article he wrote for Occupy.com, in part a response to this piece I wrote in October, 2011. Pritchard criticizes securities based on student loans and notes that they are subsidized; however,... MORE

Who These Kids Are

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Fab Rojas' response to my last post, reprinted with his permission. I just read your post about the 10% of students who do nothing in a college course. They don't attend, take exams or other appear in any other capacity.... MORE

Who Are These Kids?

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
About 10% of my enrolled undergraduate students literally do nothing in my class.  They attend zero lectures, do zero homework, and fail to show up for the midterm or the final.  Yet when I'm handing out grades, the official roster... MORE

Labor Economists vs. Signaling

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
From chapter 4 of my book in progress, The Case Against Education. Normal 0 MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 Signaling has been one of economists' more successful intellectual exports.  After Spence and Arrow developed the signaling model of education in the 1970s, the idea... MORE

Hoxby vs. Dale-Krueger on the Selectivity Premium

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
People who attend more selective colleges make more money after graduation.  But students impressive enough to win admission to selective colleges probably would have been relatively successful even if they'd attended a less prestigious institution.  That's ability bias for you. ... MORE

Via my Facebook feed and email, LearnLiberty posts a link to this debate snippet featuring Steven Horwitz and Jeffrey Reiman. The first question asks whether we should work to alleviate the problems of people whose parents make bad decisions. I'm... MORE

Bartender, Cashier, Cook, Janitor, Security Guard, Waiter

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
The human capital and signaling stories can both explain the existence of malemployment.  But malemployment research still provides some of the most compelling evidence in favor of the signaling model.  The latest draft of my The Case Against Education explains... MORE

Why Not Compulsory College?

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
A few nay-saying libertarians and unschoolers aside, almost everyone favors compulsory K-12 education.  Yet virtually no one favors compulsory college.  It's quite a mystery.  If mandatory education is a great idea at the primary and secondary levels, why would it... MORE

Does College Pay Off for Cashiers? Yes & No

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Two years ago, David Leonhardt argued that B.A.s pay, even for careers that don't require them.  The title: "Even for Cashiers, College Pays Off."  Is this true?I've spent the last two weeks tracking down the data.  Leonhardt relied on Anthony... MORE

The Iron Laws of Pedagogy

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Everyone who's ever been a student can vouch for what I call the Iron Laws of Pedagogy:First Iron Law: Students learn only a small fraction of what they're taught.Second Iron Law: Students remember only a small fraction of what they... MORE

A Micro-Mincer regression estimates personal income as a function of personal education and controls:ln Personal Income = a + b*Personal Years of Education + other stuffUnless b is very large, b approximately equals the individual education premium.  b=.09, for example,... MORE

A Primer on Malemployment

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Fogg and Harrington provide an excellent intro to the empirics of malemployment.  Highlights:Definitions:Mal-employment, a variant of underemployment, is based on the concept of over-education. It represents a mismatch between skill requirements of the job and the education of the worker:... MORE

Me in Dallas on Friday

Economic Education
Bryan Caplan
Friday I'm a keynote speaker for the O'Neil Center's "Entrepreneurship in Education" conference, held at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.  Admission is expensive, but students are eligible for sponsorship.  If you're there, please say hi.P.S. I'll be packing the... MORE

Seth Helps Students Select Careers; Does Anyone Else?

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Seth Roberts has an interesting take on the real purpose of college.  He starts unpromisingly:Almost all college students want to figure out what job to choose. The answer will depend on what they do well, what they enjoy, and will... MORE

Here's an excerpt from the latest draft of The Case Against Education. Normal 0 MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 The link between practical skill and worldly success is subtler than either mainstream defenders or contrarian detractors of modern education imagine.  The skillful do a... MORE

Academic Freedom: For Professors Only?

Economics of Education
David Henderson
This past weekend, I was engaged in a fierce debate on Facebook about academic freedom. What led to the debate was was a video that has gone viral. The video is of William Penn, an English professor at Michigan State... MORE

Further Notes on Schooling

Economics of Education
Art Carden
Friday's post got some great comments. Here are a few additional notes on schooling from someone new to home schooling (homeschooling? Home-schooling?): 1. What does it say about the quality of your product when you have trouble giving it away?... MORE

The Mixed Messages of French Schooling

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
I finally got around to reading Eugen Weber's classic Peasants Into Frenchmen: The Modernization of Rural France, 1870-1914.  It wasn't what I'd been led to believe.  I heard that the book blamed World War I on public schooling: Europe's late... MORE

I'm Proud to Be a Bad Person

Economics of Education
Art Carden
Perhaps you've read Allison Benedikt's "If You Send Your Kid to Private School, You Are a Bad Person" at Slate. We're homeschooling our kids instead of sending them to the elementary school a few blocks away, so I guess that... MORE

Upstart Bleg: Help Paul Gu Help You

Business Economics
Bryan Caplan
Paul Gu, one of the winners of Peter Thiel's 20under20 fellowships, has co-founded a company called Upstart.  In this guest post, he explains his idea, pre-answers common questions, and solicits novel questions.  And now... Paul Gu! Human Capital Contracts for... MORE

Business Brainwashing and Vocational Education

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
I'm a huge fan of child labor, also known as "vocational education."  Almost everyone would be better off if students in the bottom half of their class began full-time apprenticeships after elementary school.  If you hate sitting still and you're... MORE

Meta-Measuring Signaling

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
Tyler has probably just posted his best piece on educational signaling ever.  Unfortunately, I leave for vacation today, so I won't write a detailed response.  My quick take: Tyler now tacitly admits the force of many of my arguments, so... MORE

Four Big Facts About Hiring and IQ

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Many economists seem to think that IQ-based hiring is effectively illegal in the U.S.  O'Keefe and Vedder are two prominent voices, but plenty of mainstream labor economists say the same.  The more I read about this topic, though, the more... MORE

Tyler's Breakdown

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Today Tyler has a lengthy reply to my Twitter challenge:Would you state your human capital/ability bias/signaling point estimates using my typology?Unfortunately, Tyler gets off track almost immediately:[Bryan] does not clearly define the denominator there: is it percentage of what you... MORE

The Roots of Signaling Denial

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
The signaling model of education fits first-hand experience.  It fits the psychology of learning.  It explains otherwise very puzzling facts like the sheepskin effect.  There are few theories in economics harder to doubt.  But many economists continue to do so. ... MORE

Defensive Education

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Arnold Kling pointed me to Lester Therow's 1972 Public Interest piece on "Education and Economic Equality."  In Therow's lingo, the "wage competition view" roughly equals the human capital model and the "job competition view" roughly equals the signaling model.  It's... MORE

The Effects of Education: Fishing Proverb Edition

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Human Capital"Give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day.  Teach a man to fish and he'll eat for a lifetime."Ability Bias"Give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day.  Teach a man to philosophize and... MORE

BAAAA! Tremble Before the Mighty Sheepskin Effect

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
If you get another year of education, how big of a raise should you expect?  The answer, it turns out, heavily depends on the year.  Years that typically lead to a credential - especially years 12 and 16 - pay... MORE

What Does Education Signal? The Case of Edward Snowden

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
A striking biographical fact about NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden:By his own admission, he was not a stellar student. In order to get the credits necessary to obtain a high school diploma, he attended a community college in Maryland, studying computing,... MORE

Like most people, Tyler Cowen thinks that rising high school graduation rates are good news:The nation's high school graduation rate has risen -- to 78 percent in 2010, the Education Department says in its most recent estimate. That's obviously still... MORE

The Dirty Laundry of Instrumental Variables

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
Are instrumental variables (IV) estimates really superior to ordinary least squares (OLS)?  Most high-status empirical economists seem to think so.  Meta-analyses often treat IV as presumptively superior to OLS.  Yet when you ponder IV output, it's often simply bizarre.Rose and... MORE

Marty Nemko: Don't Go to College

Economics of Education
David Henderson
The Daily Show had a nice segment this week on the case for not going to college. The whole thing is quite good. Check out what the guy at the 2:40 point learned. The late Ayn Rand's term for his... MORE

F.A. Hayek would have been 114 years old today. To celebrate, here's a set of videos in which Hayek is interviewed by, among others, Axel Leijonhufvud (!), Armen Alchian (!!), and James Buchanan (!!!). Or, if you prefer the written... MORE

Owen, Sawhill, and "the" Return to Education

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
Yesterday I attended a roundtable discussion on the new Brookings brief, "Should Everyone Go to College?"  The authors, Stephanie Owen and Isabel Sawhill, succinctly document a point that labor economists routinely neglect: there ain't no such thing as "the" return... MORE

On Homeschoolery: A Bet, Revised

Economics of Education
Art Carden
Thanks, everyone, for suggestions on my proposal below, and I'm especially honored that seasoned bettor Bryan offered a few suggestions (I also got a nice email with suggestions from EconLog friend Fabio Rojas, who noted that the selection biases in... MORE

Art's Bet

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
First, let me join the rest of EconLog in welcoming guest blogger Art Carden.Second, I'm extremely pleased that Art quickly proposed a home school bet.  Betting is what separates us from the mass of men who live by loose and... MORE

Is Econ a Mickey Mouse Major?

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
My intellectual conscience engages whenever I speak of "Mickey Mouse majors."  After all, many people see my own discipline - economics - as a prime example.  Are they wrong?It depends.  There are at least four different senses of the "Mickey... MORE

On The Effects of Homeschooling: A Bet

Alternative Economics
Art Carden
I can't wait for Bryan's The Case Against Education: every semester, my beliefs move in favor of the signaling model and against the human capital model of schooling. This isn't to say there aren't a lot of students who are... MORE

International IQ Testing Bleg

IQ in Economics
Bryan Caplan
A series of queries that's stumping most of my favorite IQ researchers:Are there any countries where IQ testing for hiring purposes is totally legal?  Largely legal? Do we have any idea if the education premium rose less in those countries... MORE

Major Premium

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
Economists usually talk about the college premium, but the college premium heavily depends on your major.  At the same time, though, stronger students typically choose harder - and more lucrative - majors.  Thus, the college premium is doubly infected by... MORE

Three Laws of Major Mismatch

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
In Being John Malkovich, anti-hero Craig Schwartz whines, "Nobody's looking for a puppeteer in today's wintry economic climate."  The Great Recession has made a lot of college graduates feel like Craig Schwartz.  If you major in philosophy, history, or puppetry,... MORE

Brick's Insight on Childhood

Economics of Education
David Henderson
I watched a rerun of one of my favorite TV shows, "The Middle," last night and one segment was so good that I DVRed it and then transcribed the dialogue. (See here for some of the highlights.) In case you... MORE

Premia and Double Standards

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Why are economists so quick to encourage college and so slow to encourage marriage?  Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry has a good story:[E]conomists' "cosmopolitan perspective" (as Cowen puts it) makes them not feel good at the idea of public policy that would interfere... MORE

Student Motivation: A Reply to Gelman

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Gelman responds to my post on student motivation in the comments.  He's in blockquotes, I'm not:First, yes, I do expect things are different at Columbia and Harvard than at GMU, in some ways better (Ivy League students are better prepared)... MORE

Gelman the Education Optimist

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Andrew Gelman's reaction to an excellent post by Alex Tabarrok:[W]e have different goals when doing the following two things: 1. Attending a lecture, reading a textbook, or watching a lecture video. 2. Attending a concert or listening to broadcast or... MORE

An Unwritten Minimum Grade Law Exists

Economics of Education
Garett Jones
The more I think about Boudreaux's Minimum Grade Law proposal, the more I realize it has already been quietly enacted. The names of the departments vary from university to university, but there's almost always a department or two willing to pass... MORE

Measurement Error and the Education Premium

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
If you take a look at the Census, education appears to be extremely lucrative.  Back in 1975, drop-outs earned about 20% less than high school grads, college grads earned over 50% more than high school grads, and holders of advanced... MORE

Sheepskin Effects in the General Social Survey

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
A sizable literature on the education premium finds solid evidence of a "sheepskin effect": diploma years pay noticeably more than other years.  When I noticed that the General Social Survey has a DEGREE variable, I saw a golden opportunity to... MORE

Why Applicants Don't Volunteer Their Test Scores: Abigail's Insight

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
EconLog reader Abigail Haddad sent me an interesting email.  I'm reprinting it in full with her permission:Hi Bryan, I commented on "Why don't applicants volunteer their test scores?" last year and suggested that there was a verification problem, since employers... MORE

Making You Smarter

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Here's an excerpt from chapter 2 of the current draft of The Case Against Education.  Normal 0 MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 Making You Smarter While educators often promise to teach students how to think, they rarely vow to raise students' intelligence.  Trying to "make... MORE

Revealing Sentence on Higher Ed

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
From the NYT's piece on the financial troubles of higher ed:25 percent of the private colleges that Moody's rated did not raise tuition in fiscal 2011 at or beyond the rate of inflation; 21 percent of rated public universities did... MORE

Acemoglu on Human Capital and Signaling

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
My colleague Mark Koyama pointed me to Daron Acemoglu's lecture notes on human capital and signaling.  Mostly theory, but with some neat empirical points mixed in.Highlight on human capital:But there is some evidence that could be useful to distinguish between... MORE

A Question of Educational Discrimination: Some Answers

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Last week I posted the following final exam question:Some sociologists have argued that discrimination on the basis of educational credentials should be illegal.  What do the human capital and signaling models of education predict about the effect of such a... MORE

While I was vacationing in Orlando, the Economist ran an exuberant article on online education.  Most of the piece is too vague to be wrong, but this passage calls for a bet: Clayton Christensen, a Harvard Business School professor and... MORE

A Question of Educational Discrimination

Labor Market
Bryan Caplan
My favorite question from my latest Labor Economics final exam: Some sociologists have argued that discrimination on the basis of educational credentials should be illegal.  What do the human capital and signaling models of education predict about the effect of... MORE

The Case Against Education on Who You Know

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
The noble Vipul Naik has been prodding me to address the social networking benefits of education.  Here's my first take on the subject from the current draft of The Case Against Education.Who You KnowAbout half of all workers used contacts... MORE

The Case Against Education: The Project Evolves

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
In the last Table of Contents for The Case Against Education, chapter two is "Useless Studies with Big Payoffs: The Puzzle Is Real."  After writing this chapter for three months, I realized I had to split the discussion.  Now there... MORE

School, Work, and Connections Bleg

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
I'm looking for research on the extent to which people make useful career connections in school - high school, college, grad school, whatever.  My sense is that the economy is so big and diverse that people rarely (a) end up... MORE

Ignatius Reilly on Character and Education

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
A Confederacy of Dunces' unemployed anti-hero, Ignatius Reilly, explores the tension between the school ethic and the work ethic in a conversation with his long-suffering mother:"I doubt very seriously whether anyone will hire me.""What do you mean, babe? You a... MORE

Carnegie on the School Ethic

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Education teaches people to show up on time, sit down, shut up, stay awake, and follow orders.  So it's tempting to say, "School inculcates the work ethic."  But that's not quite right.  School inculcates the school ethic - and while... MORE

Correction: Total Government Spending on Higher Education

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Last night I realized that I repeatedly used an incorrect figure for government higher education spending in my debate with Steve Pearlstein.  I said "Taxpayers heavily subsidize higher education - about $500 billion dollars per year."  But ~$500B is in... MORE

Learning and Retention in Medical School

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Peter Wei, a medical student at Duke, has some interesting thoughts on my post about learning and retention.  Here's Wei, reprinted with his permission:You're right, there's a substantial literature on learning loss, yet this doesn't seem much lamented and educators... MORE

Higher Education: Time to Cut the Cord

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
Should government withdraw from an active role in promoting and subsidizing higher education?  I recently debated Pulitzer Prize winner Steve Pearlstein on this very question.  Here's the debate resource page, including full audio.  I've also published a correction: total government... MORE

The Present Value of Learning, Adjusted for Forgetting

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
Suppose learning marginal fact F increases your productivity by V.  What is the present value of learning F?  Economists will be tempted to mechanically apply the standard present value formula.  Using discrete time to keep things simple: PDV(F)=V + V/(1+r)... MORE

Why Is the National Return to Education So Low?

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Like Garett, I'm a huge admirer of Lant Pritchett's "Where Has All the Education Gone?" (World Bank Economic Review, 2001).  My favorite part of the paper is when Pritchett presents three stories that might explain his results:I discuss three possibilities... MORE

Economic arguments about education often conflate human capital, ability bias, and signaling.  Since I am a big fan of Roderick Long's exhortation to "Whip conflation now!," I decided to do something to squelch this conflation.  Namely: Produce a clarifying table.The... MORE

Did Nations that Boosted Education Grow Faster?

Economics of Education
Garett Jones
No. Each dot in the graph below represents a nation: Change in education on the x-axis and change in per capita GDP growth on the y-axis.  Between the 60's and the 90's every country in this sample boosted its average... MORE

A Bunch of Arguments in Favor of Regressive Tuition

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Florida may start varying tuition by major:Tuition would be lower for students pursuing degrees most needed for Florida's job market, including ones in science, technology, engineering and math, collectively known as the STEM fields.The committee is recommending no tuition increases... MORE

Why Not a Free Market in Educational Loans?

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
Suppose investments in education are every bit as fantastic as we're supposed to believe: Ability bias and signaling are myths, so the entire observed education premium is causal and socially valuable.  Even so, it's hard to see why government should... MORE

Does High School Algebra Pass a Cost-Benefit Test?

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
"How much do students learn in school?"  The question is harder than it seems.  You get one answer if you measure their knowledge at the end of the school year or right before graduation.  You'll probably get a very different... MORE

The Best Kinds of Free Education

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
EconLog reader Alan Shields sent me some interesting comments on my observation that the best education in the world is already free.  Reprinted with Alan's permission:I've been thinking about your thought experiment of "who would choose to take a course... MORE

Can I Sit In?

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Yesterday morning I found myself in a shuttle with two of the world's most eminent labor economists.  So I presented one of my favorite puzzles for human capital extremists: Why is the best education in the world already free?  Colleges... MORE

You Might Be Signaling

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
v\:* {behavior:url(#default#VML);} o\:* {behavior:url(#default#VML);} p\:* {behavior:url(#default#VML);} .shape {behavior:url(#default#VML);} v\:textbox {display:none;} • Normal 0 MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 With apologies to Jeff Foxworthy...If you bothered to enroll in school or pay tuition, you might be signaling.If you worry about failing the final exam,... MORE

Degree Pollution: Why subsidize it?

Economics of Education
Garett Jones
People who drive heavier cars are more likely to survive accidents.  Since life is the most valuable commodity of all, shouldn't governments give out grants or loans to help the poor buy bigger cars?  Even leaving the issue of pollution... MORE

How Does Belief in the Signaling Model Affect Educational Attainment?

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Lectures about the signaling model of education usually provoke excellent reactions from the audience.  But they also provoke some truly obtuse questions.  The worst of the worst: "So I might as well just drop out of school?"No!  A thousand times... MORE

The Meaning of Cheating

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
A beautiful argument, from Alex Tabarrok via me to the cover of Newsweek via Megan McArdle:For many students, college is less about providing an education than a credential--a certificate testifying that they are smart enough to get into college, conformist... MORE

Milton Friedman on Raising Tuition

Economics of Education
David Henderson
In preparing for my two talks on "How Economists Helped End the Draft," to be given at Berry College on September 11 and at Middle Tennessee State University on September 12, I was perusing Milton and Rose Friedman's autobiography, Two... MORE

Teachers like to think that no matter how useless their lessons appear, they are "teaching their students how to think."  Under the heading of "Transfer of Learning," educational psychologists have spent over a century looking for evidence that this sort... MORE

AA at TJ Redux

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Remember how GMU law professor Lloyd Cohen used the Freedom of Information Act to test for the extent of affirmative action at Thomas Jefferson High School?  Nine years after Cohen filed an official complaint, the Department of Education's Office for... MORE

Can America Learn?

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Timothy Taylor, the economics blogger with by far the highest signal-noise ratio, has another valuable post, this time spotlighting a piece by Martin West on Global Lessons for Improving U.S. Education. I'll snip from Taylor's excerpt: [T]here are three broad... MORE

The Degree and Origin of Foreign Language Competence

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
If you're curious about the underlying numbers for my last post, here they are.  The table shows every logically possible combination of (a) how well people speak a foreign language and (b) where they learned the foreign language.  Percentages should... MORE

The average high school graduate spends two years studying a foreign language. (Digest of Education Statistics, Table 157)  What effect do these years of study have on Americans' actual ability to speak foreign languages?I started by looking at the Census,... MORE

What It Takes to Pop a Higher Education Bubble

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
There is no "bubble" in American higher education.  I'll bet on it - or to be precise, I have bet on it.  Nevertheless, while reading the Digest of Education Statistics (Table 208), I discovered a surprising fact: During my lifetime, a... MORE

Autobiography of Malcolm X Book Club?

Book Club
Bryan Caplan
I first read The Autobiography of Malcolm X in high school, and just re-read it for the fourth time.  It may sound like an eccentric choice, but I'm thinking of starting a new EconLog book club on this work.  AMX... MORE

What Did You Learn in Business School?

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Question for readers with business degrees (A.A., B.A., M.B.A.): How much of what you learned in your business coursework do you actually apply in your business career?  Please give details.... MORE

Education and Disruption

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Benjamin Lima writes, With MOOCs, now anyone in the world with an internet connection can download and watch lectures from eminent experts at top universities, for free, and hundreds of thousands have done so. This is indeed a huge leap... MORE

How I Love Education

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
When I write about education, I suspect I come off as a philistine.  You might even boil my position down to: "Students are bored, and aren't acquiring job skills, so their education is a waste of time and money."  But... MORE

Arnold on the Current State of Computers in Education

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Arnold writes:Here is how I size up the current state of computers in education: My reactions, point by point:1. Note that in the music industry, the Internet has put record stores out of business. It has not put composers and... MORE

Computers, Education, and Comparative Advantage

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Bryan writes, At risk of sounding extremely narcissistic, the key question for Tyler and me is whether online education is going to put the two of us out of a job. Our definitional conflict notwithstanding, the two of us both... MORE

My recent post on online education specifies:When I talk about "online education," I don't just mean students at existing brick-and-mortar colleges taking some classes from their dorm rooms.  I mean students enrolling in virtual colleges instead of physical colleges.Tyler objects:I... MORE

Flat-of-the-curve in Education?

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Michael Graham writes, Education reform activist Bill Costello points out that our annual "per-pupil spending in 2006 was 41 percent higher than the OECD average of $7,283, and yet American students still placed in the bottom quarter in math and... MORE

From the latest draft of The Case Against Education:The permanent residents of the Ivory Tower often congratulate themselves for broadening students' horizons.  For the most part, however, "broaden" means "expose students to yet another subject they'll never use in real... MORE

The Status-Good Model of College

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Bryan correctly characterized my views. However, to me they imply a tipping equilibrium. Something that is a status good in one era can be the opposite in another. Think of smoking, for example. At some point, there may emerge a... MORE

Amazon put Borders out of business.  Is online education going to do to the same to brick-and-mortar colleges?*  Reflecting on earlier conversations with Arnold, I've realized that there are three competing perspectives with three competing predictions.Perspective #1: Human capital model. ... MORE

What Arrow Said About Education in 1973

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
In the early 90s, I saw Ken Arrow informally debate Murray Rothbard.  Arrow was not impressive; all he did was repeat tired textbook arguments about market failure.  My subsequent encounters with Arrow's thought were no better.  Early this year, however,... MORE

Does Portugal Show the Signaling Model Is Wrong?

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Tyler mischievously taunts me on Twitter:Good thing the Portuguese saved all those resources which Sweden wasted on signaling.On MR he adds:In 2009, only 30 percent of Portuguese adults had completed high school or its equivalent, according to figures from the... MORE

Toga! Toga!

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
"Excellent."  That's what Tyler calls Noah Smith's effort to salvage the human capital model.  Noah's story: Students learn lots of useful job skills outside of class by socializing together.[U]seful skills, which you mostly learn on the job, are not the... MORE

Rejoicing Over Class Cutting

Economics of Education
David Henderson
Bryan Caplan poses again the puzzle about students, human capital, and signaling. I won't repeat it because he says it so well. One of his commenters, Cameron Mulder, has an interesting piece of evidence against the idea that students rejoice... MORE

College and Class Identity

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Noah Smith writes, College is an intense incubator where smart people meet other smart people. The large number of leisure activities and the close quarters in which people live facilitate the formation of friendships and romantic relationships, while the exclusiveness... MORE

A Puzzle for Human Capital Extremists Revisited

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
A while back I posed the following puzzle to those who dismiss the signaling model of education:Why do students rejoice whenever a teacher cancels class?From a human capital standpoint, students' attitude is baffling.  They've paid good money to acquire additional... MORE

You Come to Resemble Your Customers

Business Economics
Arnold Kling
Tyler Cowen quotes from a wide-ranging essay by David Graeber. The growth of administrative work [in universities] has directly resulted from introducing corporate management techniques. Invariably, these are justified as ways of increasing efficiency and introducing competition at every level.... MORE

From Cheating to Signaling

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Alex Tabarrok cleverly notes that cheating on exams would be pointless if the human capital model were the whole truth:Cheating works best if the signaling model is true. If education were all about increasing productivity and if employers could measure... MORE

The Return to SAT Preparation Classes

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
SAT preparation classes don't work wonders, but they do work.  Herrnstein and Murray have a nice graph in The Bell Curve: A cynic might object that (a) you're only improving your SAT score, not your underlying cognitive ability, and (b)... MORE

Tyler Momentarily Embraces Signaling

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Loyal Marginal Revolution reader Nick_L asks Tyler:What's the most important economics question you ever asked?Tyler answers:"What is the required type font for submitting this dissertation?"I'm fond of saying that if I refused to study a foreign language in high school... MORE

Vocational Education: Do Students Suffer in the Long-Run?

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
I've shown the following NBER abstract (from Hanushek, Woessmann, and Zhang) to several economists:Policy debates about the balance of vocational and general education programs focus on the school-to-work transition. But with rapid technological change, gains in youth employment from vocational... MORE

1>0, and Other Thoughts on Apprenticeships

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Last night I heard Robert Lerman of American University make the case for apprenticeships as an alternative to standard academic education.  He got considerable pushback from the audience.  Some of the leading complaints: 1. Unlike standard academic education, which prepares... MORE

Summers Joins FIRE

Economics of Education
David Henderson
FIRE is pleased to announce the newest addition to its Board of Advisors - Lawrence H. Summers. Professor Summers is President Emeritus of Harvard University. For those of you who don't know, FIRE is the Foundation for Individual Rights in... MORE

Do College Students Get a Bad Break from Adjuncts?

Economics of Education
David Henderson
In a guest post at Megan McArdle's blog yesterday, former political science professor Laura McKenna lays out some interesting data on colleges. She notes a shift of fairly high-quality students from private colleges to government colleges. The reason, she notes,... MORE

A Neglected Private Benefit of Education

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
One neglected lesson of Charles Murray's Coming Apart is that, due to changing family structure, the private return to education has risen even more than it seems.  In the 60s, rates of marriage and divorce barely varied by education level. ... MORE

Sidney Winter's Case for Government Intervention

Economic Philosophy
David Henderson
Married couple economists Sidney Winter and Alice Rivlin came to the Naval Postgraduate School today and gave a joint talk. I'll blog on Rivlin's talk tomorrow. Today I want to focus on a true story that Winter told to make... MORE

Why Applicants Don't Volunteer Their Test Scores

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Lots of great feedback in response to last week's question, "Why don't applicants volunteer their test scores?"  I'm increasingly impressed by the wide range of first-hand education/job experiences; clearly the world is full of puzzles few economists have ever conceived,... MORE

Education Signaling in China

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Yang, a Manchester student from China, emailed me some interesting observations about education signaling in China.  Reprinted with his permission.Professor Caplan, Your signalling model is illuminating. Allow me to furnish you with some data from China. After secondary schooling, students in China... MORE

Why Don't Applicants Volunteer Their Test Scores?

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
When lawyers hear about the signaling model of education, they often invoke the Supreme Court case of Griggs vs. Duke Power.  Griggs created a strong legal presumption that it is "discriminatory" for employers to hire on the basis of IQ... MORE

Schooling, Income, and Reverse Causation

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Economists normally measure the private return to education by estimating a "Micro-Mincer" regression: (1) log(personal income in $s)= a + b1*(individual education in years) Given crucial assumptions, b1 is the private return to education.  I've discussed some of these crucial... MORE

Online Education: The Best-Case Scenario

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Do you think that online education is going to put traditional universities out of business?  Great.  Now tell me: Who moves first?  It easy to say, "Forget brick-and-mortar college.  I'm 'going' to Online U."  But what kind of students will... MORE

Bet for Brooks: No Education Tsunami Is Coming

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
David Brooks joins the list of people who think that higher education is going the way of the daily newspaper:What happened to the newspaper and magazine business is about to happen to higher education: a rescrambling around the Web. I... MORE

Notes on the "campus tsunami"

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
David Brooks writes, The early Web radically democratized culture, but now in the media and elsewhere you're seeing a flight to quality. The best American colleges should be able to establish a magnetic authoritative presence online. My thoughts: 1. Do... MORE

Why Take Yoga Classes?

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Matt Yglesias poses the question. It would clearly be cheaper and more convenient to just unroll your yoga mat in your living room and work out while watching yoga videos. The answer that pops into my head is "pre-commitment." When... MORE

Illustrated Primer Watch

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Tyler Cowen points to this article on a study of automated essay-grading. "The results demonstrated that over all, automated essay scoring was capable of producing scores similar to human scores for extended-response writing items," the Akron researchers write, "with equal... MORE

Educational Counter-Signaling Bleg

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
How successful does someone have to be before he starts bragging, "I never finished college" or "I never went to college?"  Gates and Zuckerberg are clearly there.  How much lower down the ladder of success must you go before such... MORE

Signaling Versus Educational Innovation

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Tyler wants to use my little signaling model to predict the future of online education.  At risk of looking a gift horse in the mouth, I'm afraid a much richer model is required to address Tyler's question.  In the interest... MORE

Stating The Problem: First Attempt

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Sebastian Thrun has one scenario. In 50 years, he says, there will be only 10 institutions in the world delivering higher education I do not think that there will be institutions as we think of them. I think that in... MORE

Cowen on College Subsidies

Economics of Education
David Henderson
Tyler Cowen's latest blog post is rich with assertions. This one stood out: Postwar higher education has proven one of America's most effective subsidies, and it has paid for itself many times over. Consider the phrase "many times over." To... MORE

Intellectual Ability and Educational Difficulty

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Eli has a good comment on my signaling model with changing intellectual ability: The math seems right, but I don't understand why you would assume that K is constant. It should be an increasing function of A, no? My intuition... MORE

Is Rising Education a Symptom of Progress?

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Workers in some countries are a lot more productive than workers in other countries.  One of the main differences is that people in more productive countries have more education.  When we hear that education in a country is going up,... MORE

I Doubt the Business Model

Business Economics
Arnold Kling
Tech Crunch reports, Benchmark Capital made its largest seed investment to date -- $25 million -- in a startup/university called The Minerva Project. Pointer from Tyler Cowen. Jordan Weissmann also has coverage. The goal seems to be to compete with... MORE

Mainstream Views of School Vouchers

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
The economists were asked about the statement The main drawback to allowing all public school students to take the government money (local, state, federal) currently being spent on their own education and turning that money into vouchers that they could... MORE

Timothy Taylor on College Loans

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
He offers his usual outstanding analysis. Several decades ago, it was a low-risk option to spend a few years working part-time and attending a big public university: if it didn't end up in a degree, at least you didn't rack... MORE

Tyler's Telling Question About My Education Book

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
On Monday, Tyler asked me a telling question about my education book: Why do I keep re-interpreting other people's research to show that it's consistent with or supportive of signaling, instead of simply doing a new study of my own? ... MORE

David Autor Signals Wit and Insight

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Bryan Caplan
I don't normally associate MIT with "funny," but David Autor's notes on signaling definitely qualify:Testing signaling versus human capital models of educationDoes it seem plausible that education serves (in whole or part) as a signal of ability rather than simply... MORE

If the Mind Is a Muscle

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
People often compare education to exercise.  If exercise builds physical muscles, then education builds "mental muscles."  If you take the analogy seriously, however, then you'd expect education to share both the virtues and the limitations of exercise.  Most obviously: The... MORE

Table of Contents for The Case Against Education

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
Once you figure out the perfect structure for your book, it writes itself.  Unfortunately, figuring out that perfect structure is extremely difficult.  Here's the tentative structure for my book in progress, The Case Against Education. Normal 0 MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 /* Style... MORE

Licensing and the Return to Education

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Private sector unions have almost disappeared, but occupational licensing is all the rage.  Almost 30% of all workers need a license to do their jobs - and licensed workers earn roughly a 15% wage premium.Occupational credentials are one common licensing... MORE

Diamandis and The Diamond Age

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Peter Diamandis is trying to think of an X-prize to fix education. he has considered multiple directions that an Education X Prize could take, such as coming up with better ways to crowd-source education, or rewarding the creation of "powerful,... MORE

Serfdom Watch

Political Economy
Arnold Kling
The Washington Post writes, Parents [in Adelanto, California] are trying to become the first in the country to use a trigger law, which allows a majority of families at a struggling school to force major changes, from firing the principal... MORE

Various

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
1. Kevin Carey writes, Not everyone is willing or able to get a bachelor's degree. But everyone should at least have the chance to try. After all, well-off students from upper-middle-class suburbs are going to college one way or another.... MORE

Goldin-Katz and the Education Plateau

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
v\:* {behavior:url(#default#VML);} o\:* {behavior:url(#default#VML);} w\:* {behavior:url(#default#VML);} .shape {behavior:url(#default#VML);} Normal 0 MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman";} Education has not plateaued.  Does this... MORE

The Myth of the Education Plateau

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Why has the return to education increased so much in recent decades?  The simplest explanation is that the supply of well-educated workers just isn't keeping up with the demand.  Indeed, many claim that American educational attainment has been stagnant for... MORE

Diamandis and Kotler

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Arnold Kling
The book is Abundance: The Future is Better than You Think. I think it is a must-read. 1. I am skeptical of Peter Thiel's view that regulation is holding back progress. I recall Ray Kurzweil's remark that regulations are like... MORE

"The Case Against Education" Webinar Tonight

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
Tonight I'm running a Students for Liberty webinar on my book in progress, The Case Against Education.  Anyone can join at zero price.  Q&A follows the seminar.  If you've got questions about the magic of education, ability bias, the sheepskin... MORE

The Chetty Teacher Study and the Hill Criteria

Economic Methods
Arnold Kling
This article discusses a study by Raj Chetty, John Friedman, and Jonah Rockoff on the effect of teacher quality on subsequent earnings. This is a study that has been cited a lot recently, by Alex, among others, as evidence that... MORE

Charles Murray Watch

Income Distribution
Arnold Kling
From Esquire, August 29, 1978: THE DANGEROUS ARROGANCE OF THE NEW ELITE by David Lebedoff -- For the first time, the author contends, there is emerging in America an intelligent elite that genuinely mistrusts the basic tenets of democracy. The... MORE

Discussing Innovation with Alex Tabarrok

Growth: Causal Factors
Arnold Kling
About 18 minutes into the conversation, we get into the topic of innovation in higher education. He thinks we might see a winner-take-all market for professors, and we might see it happen sooner than you think. A podcast version... MORE

Charles Murray Watch

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Helen Ladd writes, when first measured in the early 1940s, the gap in reading achievement between children from high and low income families was about 0.60 standard deviations. It subsequently more than doubled to 1.25 standard deviations by 2000. These... MORE

Brown M&Ms and Hotdogs

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
David Henderson
Russ Roberts has a fascinating video by a great storyteller about why Van Halen had a contract in the 1980s that put a high penalty on having brown M&Ms in the dressing room. I'll leave the reader to watch it.... MORE

A Perverse Incentive for Graduate School

Economics of Education
David Henderson
On a flight from Rochester, New York to Washington Dulles last Friday, I sat beside a young woman who had recently graduated from Penn State and had just started a new job. We got talking about student debt. She told... MORE

Revisiting Goldin and Katz

Growth: Causal Factors
Arnold Kling
David Autor and Daron Acemoglu have a long review article. Much of it is focused on shifting from a model in which there are only two skill levels (high and low) to a more nuanced model, with at least three... MORE

Ozimek on the Sheepskin Effect

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
I think the sheepskin effect is strong evidence in favor of the signaling model of education.  Modeled Behavior's Adam Ozimek's not so sure:[W]hat does it tell you about someone when they have invested a lot of money into college, come... MORE

Another Frustrating Education Study

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
From Richard Arum and others. They find that employment outcomes of college graduates are positively related to student performance on the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA). Who cares?. As Bryan points out, this sort of study confounds ability with learning, which... MORE

The Career Consequences of Failing versus Forgetting

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
If you're reading this blog, you probably didn't fail a lot of classes in school.  But I bet that you've totally forgotten a lot of those classes.  I got A's in junior high and high school Spanish, but barely speak... MORE

A Brief Letter on Signaling

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
I heard a rumor that a famous economist was asking about my book in progress, The Case Against Education.  So I sent him the following email:I heard you were asking about me at the GMU dinner earlier this week.  I... MORE

Kevin Carey on Innovation in Higher Education

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Interviewed by Reihan Salam and me. The thought he expresses below is that online innovators will offer credentials that are initially inferior to college degrees but which will ultimately become superior. The analogy would be with Japanese cars, which initially... MORE

What Happens When Signaling Gets Cheaper?

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Arnold: My understanding of the signaling model is that it depends crucially on the relative cost of signaling to people with and without the desired trait. You want the cost to be high for someone without the trait and low... MORE

Signaling and Costs

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
Bryan writes, when you make signaling cheaper, agents' natural response is to signal more intensely or on another dimension. My understanding of the signaling model is that it depends crucially on the relative cost of signaling to people with and... MORE

Signaling and Vicky Clubs

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Arnold's post on segregation makes several points on the signaling model of education.  I'm here to rebut them.  Arnold's in blockquotes:1. Where Bryan sees college as a useful signaling device for those who are cognitively gifted, I see it as... MORE

Segregation

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
One of the issues that I have been thinking about since reading Coming Apart is segregation. 1. Where Bryan sees college as a useful signaling device for those who are cognitively gifted, I see it as a useful segregation device... MORE

Arnold and Education: Getting to Bet

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Arnold counter-offers to my proposed education bet.  Arnold's in blockquotes.I'd prefer to stretch out the time frame at least a few years. Maybe let's pick 5 indicators, and winning means at least 3 out of 5.Fair enough, though it does... MORE

Betting Indicators

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Bryan writes, Arnold, would you care to bet that the number of full-time faculty of traditional 4-year colleges will decline by more than 10% by 2022? Something else? I'd prefer to stretch out the time frame at least a few... MORE

Bet for Arnold: Education Is Stably Wasteful

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
I've already bet David Henderson that the percent of 18-24 year-olds in traditional 4-year colleges will decline no more than 10% by 2019.  Now Arnold tempts me to double down:I see the potential for a dramatic reduction in the labor... MORE

The Education Revolution

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Charlotte Allen summarizes a lot of recent developments that I think are going to change higher education. It's happening, almost overnight: what could be the collapse of the near-monopoly that traditional brick-and-mortar colleges and universities currently enjoy as respected credentialing... MORE

De-fund College Libraries

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
Joshua Gans writes This is disappointing on a number of fronts. First, BE Press never informed us. They did send out a letter to paying subscribers but not to authors or to people who serve on their editorial boards; both... MORE

Educational Disintermediation

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Felix Salmon writes, Stanford was willing to spend hundreds of millions of dollars building a new physical campus in New York City -- but it isn't willing, it seems, to help Thrun build a free virtual campus which could reach... MORE

Thoughts on Education Reform

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Larry Summers writes, it makes sense for students to watch video of the clearest calculus teacher or the most lucid analyst of the Revolutionary War rather than having thousands of separate efforts. True enough, but I think one should try... MORE

The Present Value of a Sheepskin

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
When economists measure the return to education, they usually assume that all years of schooling increase earnings by the same percent.  A standard regression would be:log (Earnings in dollars)= a + b*(Education in years)where b is the measured return to... MORE

Tyler's Embarrassing Question and Major Concession

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Tyler's has renewed our debate about signaling (see here for earlier rounds):It is an embarrassing question for signaling models to ask: with what lag do employers get a good estimate of a worker's marginal product?  If you say "it takes... MORE

Education and Cartel Membership

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Tyler Cowen writes, It is an embarrassing question for signaling models to ask: with what lag do employers get a good estimate of a worker's marginal product? If you say "it takes 37 years" it is hard to account for... MORE

The AI Cure

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Vinod Khosla writes, I was asked about a year ago at a talk about energy what I was doing about the other large social problems, namely health care and education. Surprised, I flippantly responded that the best solution was to... MORE

Macaulay on Signaling

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Probably the most eloquent passage on the signaling model of education I've ever encountered, from Thomas Macaulay's Government of India:It is proposed that for every vacancy in the civil service four candidates shall be named, and the best candidate selected... MORE

Correcting For Ability Bias By Measuring Ability

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
There are two conceptually distinct problems with standard estimates of the return to education (see here, here, and here for more).Problem #1: Ability bias.  People with traits the labor market values (intelligence, work ethic, conformity, etc.) tend to get more... MORE

Why No Cheap Textbooks?

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Timothy Taylor writes, When it comes to textbooks, all choices are equally "free" to the actual decision-maker, who in this case is the professor rather than the student. If students at the college bookstore could choose among equivalent books by... MORE

The Hack

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Arnold makes an intriguing remark about education:If college were truly a utilitarian good, all it would take to turn these edifice-complex campuses into ghost towns is a good hack for the accreditation process. But he's skeptical because:[A]t the high levels,... MORE

From the Handbook of the Sociology of Education

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
[A]lthough employment tests are often biased against minorities (National Research Council, 1989), employers who use them are more likely to hire minorities than employers who lack such tests (Neckerman & Kirschenman, 1991).  Testing may be biased, but the alternatives to... MORE

Bricks, Mortar, and Education

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Stephen Gordon writes, Eventually you could have local campuses becoming places where MITx students seek tutoring, network, and socialize - reclaiming some of the college experience they'd otherwise have lost. Phil thought this sounded like college as a giant coffee... MORE

How to Fix Group Projects

Microeconomics
Bryan Caplan
When I was a student, I always hated group projects.  As a professor, I never assign them.  The source of my antipathy: Group projects provide terrible incentives.  Since everyone gets the same grade, the lazy and incompetent free ride off... MORE

Proving You're Qualified: Charles Hayes Replies

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
Charles Hayes, author of Proving You're Qualified, has graciously responded to my criticism of his book in three separate emails.  Email #1:Prof. Caplan,Thanks, but I think you oversimplify a bit. I just retired from the oilfield after 35 years as... MORE

Proving You're Qualified; or Not

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
I was excited when Proving You're Qualified: Strategies for Competent People Without College Degrees showed up on my desk.  Unfortunately, the book fell far short of my high hopes.  You have to read over half the book before the author,... MORE

Manski and Caplan

Family Economics
Arnold Kling
I just got around to reading Charles Manski on "Genes, Eyeglasses, and Social Policy." Manski is dismissive of heritability studies, and I am curious how Bryan would react, given the importance he places on heritability studies for his argument that... MORE

Technology and Higher Education Reform

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
I attended a dinner discussion on this topic the other night. Matt Yglesias raised two skeptical questions. 1. Since the invention of the printing press, distance learning has been feasible. At the margin, what does the Internet make possible? On... MORE

The "Virtue" of Low Academic Standards

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Further critique of Goldin-Katz in David Labaree's Someone Has to Fail:Early in the book, the authors [Goldin and Katz] identify what they consider to be the primary "virtues" of the American education system... "public provision by small, fiscally independent districts;... MORE

Khan!

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Salman Khan has interesting thoughts on education. One root of the problem is the fact that the college degree is issued by the same institution that is in charge of setting, and enforcing, the standards of that credential, says Khan,... MORE

Advantage, Sociology: Gender and the Return to Education

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
When economists estimate the return to education, they usually limit their sample to workers - or even full-time workers.  This is a serious error.  If you were evaluating the return on business loans, you wouldn't limit your sample to firms... MORE

Seth Roberts on Education and Evaluation

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Seth Roberts has an interesting response to "The Magic of Education" - that I don't go far enough:Professors are terrible at evaluation. Their method of judging student work is very simple: How close is it to what I would have... MORE

Sociologists on Signaling

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
From educational sociologist David Labaree's foreward to David Brown's Degrees of Control: A Sociology of Educational Expansion and Occupational Credentialism:[C]redentialism is astonishingly inefficient.  Education is the largest single public investment made by most modern societies, and this is justified on... MORE

Bryan Caplan is Not Like Warren Buffett

Economics of Education
David Henderson
In his critique of education--I have been urging Bryan to call it schooling, but have had no apparent effect on his wording--Bryan Caplan lays out how government pays him to school people and how what he teaches them has little... MORE

The Magic of Education

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
I've been in school for the last 35 years - 21 years as a student, the rest as a professor.  As a result, the Real World is almost completely foreign to me.  I don't know how to do much of... MORE

A Puzzle for Human Capital Extremists

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Suppose you believe whole-heartedly in the human capital theory of schooling.  Appearances notwithstanding, everything that students study gives them additional marketable skills - at least probabilistically.  I have a question for adherents of this position: Why do students rejoice whenever... MORE

TGS and RATM

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
That is, "The Great Stagnation" and "Race Against the Machine." Tyler Cowen writes, I understand how the TGS argument fits into the cyclical story of 2007-2011 (excess confidence and overextension, Minsky moment, AD contraction, AS problems slow down the recovery),... MORE

How Elite Firms Hire: The Inside Story

Labor Market
Bryan Caplan
I highly recommend Lauren Rivera's "Ivies, Extracurriculars, and Exclusion" (Research in Social Stratification and Mobility 2011).  Not only is the piece careful, edifying, and interesting; it's even emotionally affecting.  Learning more about elite hiring actually replaced my apathy toward elite... MORE

One Cause of the STEM Shortfall

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
According to Timothy Taylor, grade inflation in the humanities has been contributing to college students moving away from science, technology, engineering, and math fields, as well as economics, for the last half century. This comes at the end of an... MORE

The Paltry Effect of Political Correctness

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Sure, colleges are full of politically correct indoctrination.  But how well does the indoctrination actually work?  Poorly.  How College Affects Students reviews the whole literature and finds that:Net of the attitudes and other characteristics students bring with them to college, the... MORE

Choosing a College Major

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Fabio Rojas writes, using a yearly survey of freshmen, that college students are becoming more interested in making money. In 1971, about 50% went to college to make money. In the 1990s, it's about 70%. Similarly, modern college students are... MORE

Mobility and Marriage

Income Distribution
Arnold Kling
Bryan picked up on the fact that what we call intergenerational "economic mobility" (or lack thereof) is very much a cultural phenomenon. I would like to add that marriage patterns play a role, too. If economic classes become more endogamous... MORE

Lifted from the Comments

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Foobarista writes on this post: There used to be an idea that degrees are either academic or professional. The rise of "studies" degrees (and stuff like them such as "sustainability") are what I'd call "aspirational". If there's an employment market... MORE

Alex Tabarrok Explains College Wage Stagnation

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
He writes, Over the past 25 years the total number of students in college has increased by about 50 percent. But the number of students graduating with degrees in science, technology, engineering and math (the so-called STEM fields) has remained... MORE

My confidence in the empirical importance of the signaling model of education generates a lot of pushback from my fellow economists.  For starters, see my arguments with Bill Dickens, Tyler Cowen, Karl Smith, and Arnold.  Which got me wondering: How... MORE

The Great Stagnation for College Graduates

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Michael Mandel presents an arresting chart on the decline in real earnings of young male college graduates over the last decade, and writes, no one has given me a good explanation yet of why young American college grads should have... MORE

Nash Equilibrium in Higher Education

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
In a Nash equilibrium, every actor maximizes his utility given the behavior of all the other actors.  Arum and Roksa's Academically Adrift contains one of the best (implicit) applications of the concept I've ever read.  They name all the key... MORE

Student Loans

Income Distribution
Arnold Kling
Mike Konczal writes, Because of legal choices we've made in how to set up this relationship, it stays forever, is virtually impossible to discharge under hardship, churns fees when it goes bad, and creditors can get to anything, including Social... MORE

Education: Economic vs. Academic Perspectives

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
The more I read about education, the more I realize that social scientists have two radically different approaches.  The first is the economic approach: Judging education by pecuniary return.  According to the economic approach, education is a great success.  The... MORE

A View from Yale

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
A reader points me to an article by a Yale student. The author is troubled when she hears that 25 percent of Yale graduates who have jobs are in consulting. But Annie and Jeff weren't the only two students I... MORE

Bok's Economics of Education

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
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... MORE

Another Education Bet?

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Mark Little proposes an interesting bet in the comments:Bryan, I will not take your bet but will offer you the opposite one--that the proportion will be not less that 10% HIGHER. I believe that your signalling theory is correct, but... MORE

Higher Education Bubble?: Getting to Bet

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
David Henderson nobly expresses interest in my proposed bet:I might take that bet. But I don't believe on betting on a change in a number without having a good idea of what the number is now. Please tell me the... MORE

Stably Wasteful: Why New Tech Won't Gut Higher Education

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
If the human capital model of education were true, educators should be worried.  Modern information technology makes it possible to teach skills for a fraction of the traditional cost.  If imparting skills were the main function of schooling, higher education... MORE

Will Higher Education Tip?

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Mark Weedman writes, A school in this Google model derives its identity from its faculty and curriculum, or its "software" while de-emphasizing the importance of its infrastructure, such as its classroom, library and other campus facilities. In other words, it... MORE

Internships vs. Apprenticeships

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Timothy Taylor writes, In America, many schools and parents and students will speak out strongly in favor of strong commitments to "community service" and volunteer projects and unpaid short-term internships. But many of these same people tend to recoil if... MORE

Rojas' Grad Skool Rulz

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
Fabio Rojas' pearls of wisdom for grad students are now available as a concise, information-packed $2 e-book.  Definitely worth the money if you have any noticeable interest in grad school.  My only complaint: He left out my single favorite piece... MORE

"But what about the kindergarten study?"  I hear this question all the time.  Questioners are referring, of course, to Chetty et al.'s "How Does Your Kindergarten Classroom Affect Your Earnings?  Evidence from Project STAR."  Fans of the paper often claim... MORE

Progress, Academics, Streetlights, and Keys

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
The best argument against vocational education is economic change.  What's the point of preparing students for occupations that won't even exist by the time they finish their studies?  In Left Back, Diane Ravitch skewers Progressive-era educators for their lack of... MORE

Against Merit Pay for Teachers

Business Economics
Arnold Kling
That would be my position. A government-run system of teacher compensation, based on test scores, would in some ways be the worst of all worlds. It would create incentives for teachers to "game" the system. It would give too much... MORE

Misvocational Education

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Progressive education was a mixed bag.  The bag's best item: Its proto-signaling critique of the curriculum.  Progressive educators heaped scorn on the teaching of Latin and Greek - and often history and science as well.  Why?  Because most of the... MORE

Grading the Four Faces of Progressive Education

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Ayn Rand raised me to despise Progressive education.  Now that I'm reading Diane Ravitch's Left Back, though, I'm learning that "Progressive education," like Walt Whitman, contained multitudes.  Ravitch identifies four distinct - and often conflicting - trends:First was the idea... MORE

Three Quotes from the Kindergarten Paper

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
I'm finally reading the much-acclaimed "How Does Your Kindergarten Classroom Affect Your Earnings?"  There's no denying that it's an extremely impressive piece.  And unlike many of their fans, the authors are very careful.  Note well: Project STAR was designed to... MORE

Class Dismissed and Signaling

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
In Class Dismissed: Why We Cannot Teach or Learn Our Way Out of Inequality, John Marsh argues that education is overrated.  Unions and redistribution, not education, are the best remedy for poverty and inequality.  I'm clearly not Marsh's intended audience. ... MORE

How Lazy Is the Professoriat?

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
In my view, low conscientiousness is a major cause of poverty.  Laziness and impulsiveness lead to low marginal productivity.  Sooner or later the market notices and gives you your just deserts.  A smug, self-satisfied view, I know, but I'm only... MORE

From National Affairs

Monetary Policy
Arnold Kling
The current issue (fall 2011) looks quite interesting. Some of the pieces you can now access on line: 1. On means testing for entitlements, Andrew Biggs writes, There is an alternative approach -- one that achieves many of the ends... MORE

I Don't Get This

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Nancy Folbre writes, Indeed, research by the economists Eric Hanushek and Steven Rifkin -- both advocates of school reform -- indicates that neither teachers' own test scores when they were students nor their educational credentials explain much of the variation... MORE

School Reform Successes

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
The Economist touts some. four important themes emerge: decentralisation (handing power back to schools); a focus on underachieving pupils; a choice of different sorts of schools; and high standards for teachers. Pointer from Tyler Cowen. I am skeptical. I think... MORE

Credentials and Teacher Quality

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
According to Marcus Winter, they are not highly correlated.... MORE

The Stupidest Most Annoying Argument for Stimulus

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Mark Thoma recycles a chart from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities showing cuts in employment in education. Ergo, we need to send stimulus money to state and local governments. I don't mean to single out Mark. Every Democrat... MORE

Question for Fans of Universal College Attendance

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Question for people who think that (almost) everyone should go to college:Do you also think that (almost) everyone should major in high-paid technical fields like engineering, medicine, and computer science?If not, why not?  If the college premium is an overpowering... MORE

One Gritty Piece of Academic Reality

Economics of Education
David Henderson
"Howdy from that college kid." That's the subject line of an e-mail I received about a year ago from a local college student who, at the time, was attending Monterey Peninsula College, the local 2-year community college in Monterey. The... MORE

What I Thought, at Age 16, Academia was Supposed to Be

Economics of Education
David Henderson
And the company offers a treasure trove of traditional academic content that undergraduates paying $50,000 a year may find nowhere on their Club Med-like campuses. This past academic year, for example, a Bowdoin College student interested in American history courses... MORE

The Picoeconomics of Education

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Economists who study education usually look at the effect of individuals' education on individual income - the standard "microeconomic" approach.  But economists who study education also look at the effect of countries' education on country income - the "macroeconomic" approach. ... MORE

But Why Would Greg Mankiw Adopt?

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Timothy Taylor writes, My solution is my own introductory textbook, "Principles of Economics." The second edition of this text is out this fall through Textbook Media, Inc. The pricing works this way: $17 for access to an online e-textbook which... MORE

Experimenting with Teaching Videos

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
These are for my high school classes, where I teach AP statistics and AP economics. I am trying to do my version of Khan Academy. My hope is that the students can watch these on their own, and then I... MORE

The Return of the Voice of Cold, Hard Truth to All Would-Be Educators

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
More golden advice from Douglas Detterman:[I]f you want people to learn something, teach it to them.  Don't teach them something else and expect them to figure out what you really want them to do.From "The Case for the Prosecution: Transfer... MORE

Transforming Education and Health Care

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Marc Andreessen gives his view of the world. It includes, Health care and education, in my view, are next up for fundamental software-based transformation. My venture capital firm is backing aggressive start-ups in both of these gigantic and critical industries.... MORE

NCH Podcast

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
Paul Howard and I discuss the New Commanding Heights. That is, education and health care are taking over a larger share of the economy, and this is an important phenomenon for political economy.... MORE

The Voice of Cold, Hard Truth to All Would-Be Educators

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Tyler often insists that, appearances notwithstanding, he's constantly popularizing free-market ideas.  People just have to read him carefully and in the proper frame of mind.I habitually insist that this isn't good enough.  Either you popularize your point bluntly and clearly,... MORE

The Theory of Time and Frittering

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
From Rothbard's biography of Ludwig von Mises, a passage worth remembering:On the publication of his two books in economic history and on the receipt of his doctorate in 1906, Mises ran into a problem that would plague him the rest... MORE

A Means A in the Chronicle of Higher Education

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
The Chronicle reports, The best way to eliminate grade inflation is to take professors out of the grading process: Replace them with professional evaluators who never meet the students, and who don't worry that students will punish harsh grades with... MORE

Liberating the New Commanding Heights

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Inside Higher Ed reports, The bill, S. 1250, the Growing Excellent Achievement Training Academies for Teachers and Principals Act, introduced in June, would give grants to states to set up or authorize "academies" for training teachers and principals. The training... MORE

A Stanford Course Where A Means A

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Artificial Intelligence, to be taught in the fall by Sebastian Thrun and Peter Norvig. Although you will not get a Stanford certificate, the course promises a certificate that shows how you would have done on Stanford's grading curve. Thanks to... MORE

A Means A, a bit more fleshed out

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Pasted in below the fold. Comments welcome.... MORE

A Means A

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
A few months ago, Ben Casnocha wrote, Maybe 5-10% of high school high achievers should pursue higher education without attending a four year traditional college. This is the "Real Life University" option for entrepreneurial spirits. This is for folks who... MORE

Schools without Classrooms

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
In the legacy education model, teachers combine coaching, feedback, and content delivery. By coaching I mean advice, guidance, and encouragement. Feedback includes formal grading as well as informal praise and criticism. Content delivery includes lectures and reading assignments. Perhaps the... MORE

Structural Employment Policy

Labor Market
Arnold Kling
Nick Schulz and I offer ideas, focused on the New Commanding Heights. imagine if state governments experimented by setting up healthcare enterprise zones. These would be areas where entrepreneurs could set up healthcare delivery systems without any rules concerning what... MORE

Education and Income Distribution

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Catherine Rampell writes, A college graduate at the 25th percentile makes $730 per week, which is still 13.5 percent more than the median high school grad. Here are the numbers, reproduced in tabular format. Earnings QuartileHigh School GradsSome CollegeCollege Grads75th... MORE

Another Thought on Martorell and Clark

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
From my last post on Martorell and Clark:M&C have the best data set ever constructed for detecting ability bias.  After all, they've got measures of years of education, earnings, and initial test scores - i.e. test scores before high school... MORE

Larry Summers on the New Commanding Heights

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
He says, Look, the most rapidly growing sector of jobs over the last decade, and in the forecasts for the next decade, is health care, and education is in the top five. So we need to embrace that. We need... MORE

I'm slowly working my way through the select group of empirical papers on signaling.  One of the neatest so far: Paco Martorell and Damon Clark's 2010 working paper, "The Signaling Value of a High School Diploma."  Background: There are quite... MORE

Words of Wisdom on Signaling

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Oreopoulos and Salvanes's recent piece in the JEP begins with ample concessions to the signaling model of education:One issue is that schooling may help develop skills or it may help signal skills that individuals already have. If those with more... MORE

Job Satisfaction and Biblical Literalism

Labor Market
Bryan Caplan
After my last post, I spent a while playing with the GSS's job satisfaction data.  I tried adding a kitchen sink of regressors to education and log real income: IQ, age, year, race, sex, church attendance, political ideology.  The negative... MORE

Job Satisfaction, Education, and the Hedonic Treadmill

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
I won't deny that there's a lot of interesting material in "Priceless: The Nonpecuniary Benefits of Schooling" (Oreopoulos and Salvanes 2011, Journal of Economics Perspectives).  The theme, of course, is that the benefits of schooling go far beyond mere extra... MORE

Diamonds in the Rough

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
When people weigh the plausibility of the signaling model of education, they focus on the ease of on-the-job incompetence detection.  If it only takes a couple of months to notice that a person's credentials overstate their performance, how important can... MORE

Returns to Education, Again

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Tyler Cowen writes, If you believe in the signaling theory, however, his marginal product is fairly low, much lower than the wage he will be paid. They will fire him. He'll come out a bit ahead, if he is not... MORE

Profit Margins in Education

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Vance Fried writes, Based upon the CELS and SHEEO studies, the real cost of undergraduate education could vary from $5,000 to $9,000 per year, depending on institutional characteristics. The rest of tuition is a markup over cost. He estimates the... MORE

Tell Me the Value of a Fake Harvard Diploma

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Our story begins with a 22-year-old high school graduate with a B average.  He knows an unscrupulous nerd who can hack into Harvard's central computer and give him a fake diploma, complete with transcript.  In the U.S. labor market, what... MORE

Difference-Makers in Education

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Matt Yglesias writes, Sometimes I hear from union-affiliated folks that it's unfair to attribute differences in student learning to differences in teacher skill, because everyone knows that socioeconomic and home environment factors drive a lot of this. Other times I... MORE

Four Unrelated Points on Education

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
1. Tyler Cowen responds on signaling.  He saved his best argument, though, for this morning's conversation in his office.  Are we really to believe, he asked me, that signaling is the one force that vitiates the rule that everyone earns... MORE

Noah Smith on Education

Economics of Education
David Henderson
Co-blogger Arnold Kling comments on Noah Smith's post on education and Arnold's thoughts, as always, are worth reading. I want to focus on three things in Smith's post, though, that Arnold doesn't highlight. 1. Noah says that schools are prisons.... MORE

Thoughts on Education

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Tyler Cowen raises a good argument about the signaling model. Education is good for more than getting a good first job offer right off the bat. Presumably, relying on education as a signal causes firms to make mistakes when they... MORE

Ability Bias vs. Signaling Again

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
In response to my last post on education, Tyler writes:[Bryan] cites the signaling motives for education and concludes: "Here, the evidence Tyler cites is simply irrelevant."  This is simply not true and indeed these papers are obsessed with distinguishing learning... MORE

Me and the Return to Education Literature

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Like Arnold, I take issue with Tyler's claim that:The view that education is mostly about signaling is inconsistent with the established consensus on the returns to schooling and yet the writers at EconLog do not respond to this literature or,... MORE

The "literature" on returns to schooling

Economic Methods
Arnold Kling
Tyler Cowen writes, The view that education is mostly about signaling is inconsistent with the established consensus on the returns to schooling and yet the writers at EconLog do not respond to this literature or, as far as I can... MORE

Is "Mimic the Elite" A Good Rule of Thumb?

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
David Leonhardt's defense of education almost totally neglects the strongest argument against education: that much of it is privately profitable but socially wasteful signaling.  But his closing sentence changes the subject in an interesting way:I don't doubt that the skeptics... MORE

College Returns and Nonexperimental Data

Economic Methods
Arnold Kling
David Leonhardt writes, Construction workers, police officers, plumbers, retail salespeople and secretaries, among others, make significantly more with a degree than without one. Why? Education helps people do higher-skilled work, get jobs with better-paying companies or open their own businesses.... MORE

Japanese Central Planners at Work

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
From Nature: Of all the countries in which to graduate with a science PhD, Japan is arguably one of the worst. In the 1990s, the government set a policy to triple the number of postdocs to 10,000, and stepped up... MORE

Underestimating Overqualification

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Economists are finally waking up to the fact that many people are overqualified for their jobs.  You don't need a college degree to be a baggage porter or bellhop, but according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 17% of them... MORE

Disrupting College

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
That is the title of a white paper by Clayton Christensen and others. The theory of disruptive innovation has significant explanatory power in thinking through the challenges and changes confronting higher education. Disruptive innovation is the process by which a... MORE

Good News on California Schools

Economics of Education
David Henderson
California could cut school year by several weeks That's the headline of a recent article in the San Jose Mercury News. The article states: While plans aren't settled or even proposed, Gov. Jerry Brown and other officials have suggested that... MORE

Reflections on Gifted Programs

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Full disclosure: The idea of schools without gifted programs fills me with visceral meritocratic outrage.  In junior high and high school, tracking was the only thing that made my life bearable.  In my memory, normal classes were a combination of... MORE

The Methodology is Flawed

Economic Methods
Arnold Kling
My father always said that there were three iron laws of social science. 1. Sometimes it's this way, and sometimes it's that way. 2. The data are insufficient. 3. The methodology is flawed. On politically sensitive topics, the tendency is... MORE

Gifts for the Gifted

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Frances Woolley looks at studies that question the effectiveness of "gifted and talented" programs. here is my take-away: There are great wads of resources thrown at gifted education, and little evidence of positive results for border-line gifted students The reason... MORE

The Education Hierarchy and Signaling

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Lorenzo links to a post by Xavier Marquez. Marquez talks about a personality cult as a signaling device in a dictatorship. One of Marquez' commenters writes, suppose that instead of a single dictator, there is an elite class, which has... MORE

King Khan

Economics of Education
David Henderson
I second Arnold's recommendation of the Khan video. Some highlights: 4:47: These videos help even an autistic kid. Wow! 5:10: "Here I was, an analyst at a hedge fund; it was very strange for me to do something of social... MORE

Video of the Day

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Khan of the Khan Academy. If Tyler Cowen still believes in stagnation after watching this video, then he has no soul.... MORE

James Heckman on the Great Stagnation

Income Distribution
Arnold Kling
He writes, Currently, over 40% of all American children are born out of wedlock and more than 12% of all children live in families where the mother has never married. Such families provide fewer financial and parenting resources for child... MORE

Education vs. Money Management

Economic Methods
Arnold Kling
Consider the following two propositions, one in education (E) and one in finance (F). (E) One way to improve education would be to get rid of the bottom 10 percent of teachers and to try to replicate more widely the... MORE

Educational Testing

Economics of Education
David Henderson
In a comment on my post, "Home Schooling and Socialization," Scott writes: Your views are very similar to those of John Taylor Gatto. Are you familiar with his work? Most libertarians I know consider him a hero which is interesting... MORE

Free the Children

Economics of Education
David Henderson
I mentioned in an earlier post that I had listed, in my book, The Joy of Freedom: An Economist's Odyssey, five ways you could free your child and other people's children from government. Here's what I wrote in 2001: Just... MORE

Schools and Socialization

Economics of Education
David Henderson
Warning: Not for the faint of heart. The following is an outtake from my chapter on education and schools in The Joy of Freedom: An Economist's Odyssey. I was always torn about whether to include it because it was so... MORE

Home Schooling and Socialization

Economics of Education
David Henderson
David Friedman has an excellent comment on home schooling and socialization, in response to another commenter, on Bryan Caplan's recent post. Here are my thoughts, two excerpts from "Freedom and Education Versus 'Public' Schools," Chapter 16 of my book, The... MORE

A Graduation Rate Experiment

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
One of the worst problems with conventional return to education estimates is that they ignore drop-outs.  That's like a bank ignoring defaults when it calculates its return on loans.  According to a recent experiment, a lot of parents ignore drop-out... MORE

Grist for Bryan

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Lauren Rivera, an assistant professor at Northwestern's Kellogg School, has written a paper on the way that elite employers screen resumes (no ungated version found). Her claim is that top law firms and investment banks select for prestige in academic... MORE

The Problem with Schools

Economics and Culture
Arnold Kling
Bryan is not the first one to worry about schools. In 1962, John Holland Snow accused the educational establishment of subversion. I believe that an educational movement or philosophy which minimizes or denies the possibility of our people and institutions... MORE

Media Bias Bias

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Question: Why is bias in the media so much more on our minds than bias in the schools?  Both the media and schools are largely in left-wing hands - and the content reflects this fact.  But consider the stark contrast... MORE

Fixing Montgomery County Education

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
A commenter asked what I would do differently. Here goes: 1. Make sure that when teachers move into administrative jobs (other than principal), they take a huge pay cut. I do not mind paying a classroom teacher a big salary.... MORE

The Plight of the Marginal College Grad

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Richard Vedder and co-authors analyze the numbers. More than one-third of current working graduates are in jobs that do not require a degree, and the proportion appears to be rising rapidly...60 percent of the increased college graduate population between 1992... MORE

The Case Against Latin

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
The great Frederic Bastiat was an eloquent enemy of Latin in the curriculum.  In the Middle Ages, he admits, "There were only Latin books; writing was done only in Latin; Latin was the language of religion; the clergy could teach... MORE

Case in Point

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
The WSJ names Marginal Revolution as "Top of the tree" among econ blogs, and adds "The comments tend to be of unusually high quality too."  As if to test this compliment, Tyler asks: When it comes to the idea of... MORE

Does Education Matter?

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Tino writes, The mean score of Americans with European ancestry is 524, compared to 506 in Europe, when first and second generation immigrants are excluded. He concludes that the American school system is actually better, if one makes what he... MORE

Teacher Evaluations and Superstition

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Megan McArdle has a long post on the issue of measuring teacher quality. Meanwhile, The New York Times profiles James Heckman, whose careful research suggests that by the time a child reaches school age it is too late to make... MORE

The Guild Problem

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Walter Russell Mead writes, Most intellectuals today still live in a guild economy. The learned professions - lawyers, doctors, university professors, the clergy of most mainline denominations, and (aspirationally anyway) school teachers and journalists - are organized in modern day... MORE

College Education at the Margin

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Richard Vedder writes, approximately 60 percent of the increase in the number of college graduates from 1992 to 2008 worked in jobs that the BLS considers relatively low skilled--occupations where many participants have only high school diplomas and often even... MORE

Fade-out, Teacher Quality, and Summer Learning Loss

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Getting students to learn is hard.  One of teachers' favorite consolations, though, is that "If I can just get through to these kids, it will all be worth it."  The hope, apparently, is that successful teaching will permanently changes students'... MORE

The Economy the American Curriculum Prepares You For

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
A common argument in favor of American education is that it exposes students to a wide variety of career options.  How are kids supposed to decide their course in life if they don't know their choices?  Unfortunately, this argument has... MORE

Three that Caught My Eye

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
1. William Easterly on the $320,000 kindergarten teacher story. Under the project studied, there were random assignments of teachers and students to classes. The striking thing in the findings is the identification of "Good" and "Bad" kindergarten classes, as shown... MORE

Recalculation Watch: Unemployed Law School Graduates

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Annie Lowrey reports, The job market for lawyers is terrible, full stop--and that hits young lawyers, without professional track records and in need of training, worst. Though the National Association for Law Placement, an industry nonprofit group, reports that employment... MORE

Common Sense and the Marginal Student

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Common sense says that marginal consumer of a product - the person who say "Eh, why not?" before he buys - benefits less from his purchase than the product's average consumer.  This is clearly true for consumption decisions: The typical... MORE

Why is College Expensive?

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Robert B. Archibald and David H. Feldman write, First, higher education is a service industry. From 1947 to 2009 the average annual price increase for services was 4.0 percent, while for goods the average annual price increase was only 2.4... MORE

Thiel's Priceless Publicity

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
I hereby nominate Peter Thiel as the world's most creative philanthropist.  After lending his name and money to seasteading, he's now trying to reform education by discouraging it:Thiel is starting a new initiative that will offer grants of up to... MORE

Bill Gates on Education and Philanthropy

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
I was impressed by the latest "60 Minutes" report on Bill and Melinda Gates and many of their choices about what to spend their fortunes on. One main choice is their large spending on producing a vaccine against malaria. Here's... MORE

Workers Usurp the Means of Production

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
The New York Times reports, Today, Mr. Lee and five other teachers -- all veterans of Teach for America, a corps of college graduates who undergo five weeks of training and make a two-year commitment to teaching -- are running... MORE

Morning Recommendations

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
Arnold Kling
Russ Roberts interviews Bryan Caplan on the case for open borders. The challenge with making that case is that anything other than xenophobia is counterintuitive. Thorfinn suggests that if the U.S. overspends on health care, it also overspends on education.... MORE

Washington Ideas Forum

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
You can watch the main event here, still going on this afternoon and tomorrow. I participated in a side show, not video streamed, about the future of the middle class. This was a large-group discussion, which was recorded, and at... MORE

On the Clock

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
The excellent Fabio Rojas offers bluntly excellent advice for grad students in the latest Inside Higher Ed.  He begins by distinguishing "short-clock" from "long-clock" disciplines:Some disciplines kick people out in four to six years. I call these "short clock." Engineering,... MORE

Funding Dis-Education

Business Economics
Arnold Kling
Mike Gibson points me to this story. [Peter] Thiel is starting a new initiative that will offer grants of up to $100,000 for kids to drop out of school. His goal is to get college students to work in business... MORE

Signaling that I'm Not Signaling About Signaling

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
During our last few lunches, Robin has challenged me to clarify my position on educational signaling - and help my critics to do the same.  And more recently, he named "You have little interest in getting clear on what exactly... MORE

Educational Signaling and Statistical Discrimination

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
The tacit assumption of signaling models of education is that employers engage in statistical discrimination.  Instead of looking into each applicant's soul and finding his true marginal productivity, employers rely heavily on more-or-less accurate stereotypes about "high school drop-outs," "English... MORE

The College Fun Puzzle

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Question: If college is so much more fun than getting a job, why are irresponsible, impulsive slackers less likely to start college and more likely to drop out?... MORE

Opera and Education

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
When I argue that the social benefits of education are grossly overrated, one thought bothers me: Poorly-educated people bore me.  If education levels fell to efficient levels, the long-run effect would be a world with fewer people for me to... MORE

Education and Sibling Contrast

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
You probably know a family where some of the kids went to college and others didn't.  IQ aside, what are the crucial differences between the ones who went and the ones who didn't?... MORE

Markets for Everything, Including Bad Grammar

Economics and Culture
David Henderson
Gun Control is when you keep firearms plus guns away from people. Many people think that gun control is right because they think keeping people away from guns will reduce the amount of deaths each year. They also think that... MORE

Michael Mandel's Indicator, along a Margin

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Michael Mandel writes, college costs have kept rising, while the real earnings of young college grads have gone down since 2000. In particular, since the recession started in 2006, real tuitions and fees have skyrocketed, while real earnings have plummeted.... MORE

Macroeconomic Costs of Credentialism

Macroeconomics
Arnold Kling
My latest essay: Entrepreneurs in healthcare and education face unusually strong barriers to entry. Both industries are credentials cartels. Licensing and accreditation are key requirements to compete in those fields, and incumbents are in control of the process. In addition,... MORE

Education: First Cut, Then Improve

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Education can be improved; I don't deny it.  For example, I think vocationally-oriented German high school is clearly more efficient than the goofy American approach.  My first choice is a free market in education; but if government insists on subsidies,... MORE

Taking Up Bryan's Challenge

Economics of Education
David Henderson
I have never let my schooling interfere with my education. The above is a famous quote from Mark Twain and it relates to the challenge Bryan posed about whether there any countries in which there is too little education. I... MORE

The other day, Tyler Cowen challenged me to name any country that I consider under-educated.  None came to mind.  While there may be a country on earth where government doesn't on net subsidize education, I don't know of any.On the... MORE

Morning Reading

Economic Education
Arnold Kling
Ed Pinto writes, Here's my proposal to bring Congress's penchant for imprudent lending to a quick end: All congressional pension assets should be invested in funds backed solely by the high- risk loans mandated by federal housing legislation. I have... MORE

My Reply to Bill - Digest Version

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
While writing my final reply to Bill Dickens, I often wished I were writing six short posts instead of one long one.  My favorite could-have-been free-standing points (Bill's in quotes, I'm not):1. Policy implications.Further, you must believe that there is... MORE

What I'm Reading: 2

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Arnold Kling
Teach Like a Champion, by Doug Lemov. As a teacher, I find it helpful. However, with apologies to James C. Scott the book could have been entitled "Seeing like a teacher." An excerpt: the "plane" of your classroom is the... MORE

Education and Signaling: Rejoinder to Bill Dickens

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Today I'm celebrating Labor Day by continuing my exchange with Bill Dickens on the signaling model of education.  (Previous rounds here, here, and here).  What's the Labor Day connection?  Simple: If I'm right, we'd be collectively better off if we... MORE

Education and Signaling: Bill Dickens Replies

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Last week, Bill Dickens critiqued the signaling model of education, and I replied.  Here's Bill's rejoinder:Bryan has said a lot nice things about me in this space. Let me take this opportunity to return the favor. There are many different... MORE

Balan's Test

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
My debate partner David Balan poses a fascinating test of the signaling model in the comments: Here's a possible test. Among Israeli Jews there is a substantial religious minority known as "Ultra-Orthodox" or "Haredi" Jews. In this group a large... MORE

Education and Signaling: Reply to Bill Dickens

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
As you'd expect, Bill's case against the signaling model doesn't convince me.  Here are my thoughts, point-by-point:I take it that you think that nearly all of the value of schooling is signaling?My best guess is that 80% of the private... MORE

More Predatory Education

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
The Washington Monthly has the scoop: The Washington Monthly and Education Sector, an independent think tank, looked at the 15 percent of colleges and universities with the worst graduation records--about 200 schools in all--and found that the graduation rate at... MORE

Bill Dickens versus the Signaling Model of Education

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Bill Dickens was my Econ 1 teacher.  He's also long been one of the intellectual consciences on my shoulder - an imagined reader whose standards I strive to meet.  He recently emailed me a critique of a thesis for which... MORE

Evolution, Economics, and Education

Alternative Economics
Arnold Kling
Mike Gibson points to a sequence of posts by D.S. Wilson. They start here (with some broken links in the first paragaph--I needed to use Google to follow up on one of them), and proceeds rather slowly for my taste.... MORE

On National Education Policy

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
George Leef writes, The first point to observe is that "our" college graduation rate is just a statistical artifact, like "our" home ownership rate and "our" voting rate. To people imbued with a central planning mindset, such statistics betoken national... MORE

Predatory Educating

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Steve Eisman says, There are two kinds of accreditation -- national and regional. Accreditation bodies are non-governmental, non-profit peer-reviewing groups. Schools must earn and maintain proper accreditation to remain eligible for Title IV programs. In many instances, the for-profit institutions... MORE

Two Provocative Quotes on Education

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Both in Forbes blogs. Rich Karlgaard: Self-learning rules. We are at the beginning of the Death of Credentials. The ROI for 95% of college educations will be negative. Bill Gates: If I told you that the best math teacher was... MORE

Babcock-Marks and Signaling

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
After summarizing the Babcock-Marks' evidence on declining study time, I pointed out that the return to education rose heavily during the same period, then remarked:Babcock and Marks could reply, of course, that the return to college would have been even... MORE

College: Easy Money

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
According to Philip Babcock and Mindy Marks, college students' weekly study time fell by 40% between 1961 and 2003.  The research is forthcoming in the Review of Economics and Statistics, but here's a very readable popularization.  Their basic findings:In 1961,... MORE

Thoughts on Academic Tenure

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Megan McArdle writes, When an academic starts pushing the tenure model for anywhere outside academia, I will find their defense of its use in academia more convincing. I think that tenure is only a subset or symptom of a larger... MORE

Education, especially female education, seems to reduce fertility.  Economists standard explanation is that women's foregone earnings are the leading cost of children.  If you raise women's education, you raise their potential income; and as you raise their potential income, you... MORE

Generally Educationally Deficient (GED)

Economics of Education
David Henderson
The General Educational Development (GED) credential is issued on the basis of an eight hour subject-based test. The test claims to establish equivalence between dropouts and traditional high school graduates, opening the door to college and positions in the labor... MORE

Willingham, Flow, and Why Students Don't Like School

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Daniel Willingham is a psychology prof at UVA and author of the American Educator's "Ask the Cognitive Scientist" column.  In Why Don't Students Like School, Willingham tries to popularize psychology's main lessons for practicing educators.  It's a fun read, and... MORE

So Why Don't Students Like School?

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
I just finished Why Don't Students Like School?  I'll review it shortly, but let me leak my leading complaint: The book is mistitled.  Frankly, it doesn't even try to explain why students don't like school.If you had to answer the... MORE

The Company of Strangers

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Arnold Kling
Notwithstanding my disagreements with Paul Seabright on political economy, the revised edition of The Company of Strangersis one of the best economics books to come out so far this year. I strongly recommend it, particularly if you did not read... MORE

Rajan and Reinhart

International Macroeconomics: Exchange Rates, International Debt, etc.
Arnold Kling
Raghu Rajan spoke at Cato about his new book, Fault Lines. One of the discussants was Carmen Reinhart, of Reinhart and Rogoff fame. I found it interesting, and it might be worth checking out when Cato puts up a recording,... MORE

Holding Universities Accountable

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Glenn Reynolds writes, Make institutions of higher education partially liable when students are unable to pay student loans. A really strict system would make the school a co-signer, but making it even 5 or 10% liable for missed payments would... MORE

Adolescence Without a Curfew

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Michael Barone writes, [A recent ballyhooed study of the phenomenon of extended adolescence] got me thinking about the much ballyhooed provision of the Obamacare bill that allows parents to include "children" up to age 26 in their family health insurance... MORE

Catching Up

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Arnold Kling
Various things that came up while I was traveling are discussed below.... MORE

How Lucky Was I?

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
When I talk to economists who earned their econ Ph.D. in the 70s and 80s, they paint a grim picture: 70 hour workweeks, followed by truly comprehensive exams where everything's fair game and lots of students fail.When I talk to... MORE

Good Sentences

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
from John Goodman. In general, a bureaucratic system is one in which normal market forces have been systematically suppressed. In such an environment, there tends to be a sea of (relative) mediocrity, sometimes punctuated by little islands of excellence. Further,... MORE

If Capitalists Ran the Schools

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Robin's been warming up to Bowles and Gintis' classic Schooling in Capitalist America.  The usual summary of B&G is that our educational system is basically a factory that makes good cogs for the capitalists' social machine.  As a product of... MORE

Arizona Collectivism

Central Planning vs. Local Knowledge
David Henderson
In a post a few days ago, I pointed out that many people on both sides of the new Arizona immigration law are being collectivists. A particularly flagrant example popped up in Highland Park, Illinois, where a school administrator cancelled... MORE

Extra-curricular Signaling in An Education

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Here's a scene from An Education too good not to include in The Case Against Education:Jenny [girl in high school]: I've got an English essay to do by tomorrow morning.Dad: Right. So, the only sound I want to hear coming... MORE

Slacker U

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Philip Babcock and Mindy Marks write, We find a 10 hour decline in the average weekly study time of full-time college students at four-year colleges in the United States, from about 24 hours per week in 1961 to about 14... MORE

A Few Quick Hits

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Again, I am pressed for time, so not many comments. 1. Tyler Cowen points to a story about an LSU professor teaching a biology course for non-majors who gave bad grades and was removed from teaching the class. LSU cited... MORE

Schools, Jobs, and Extracurriculars: MR Edition

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Tyler and his readers are trying to solve last week's puzzle: Why do colleges care so much more about extracurricular activities employers?Tyler's answer is that it's an attempt to raise future donations:Colleges want to expand the heterogeneity of the selection... MORE

Extracurricular Puzzle

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Colleges care about applicants' extracurricular activities.  Employers don't.  What's going on?  I'm tempted to just repeat my adage that, "Non-profits are crazy," but even non-profit employers don't seem very concerned about how you spend your spare time.  Theories?... MORE

Plight of the Unskilled College Grad, Long Term

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Another survey available here allows us to look at income from work in 2002 by undergraduate major for graduates in 1993. Here are the 25th and 50th percentiles, respectively: Major50th percentile25th percentileHumanities3800024500Social Science4500029764History3960025000Biological Sciences4300030000Math5000035400Public Affairs3900029500Engineering6900053000Education 3400022500Business5100034100Health4700031000Psychology3800024000other4250027700overall4499829764 Note that income from... MORE

Plight of the Unskilled College Grad, Con't

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Following up on a suggestion by Fabio Rojas, I went to this page and selected the study that looked at college graduates from 1999-2000 and interviewed them in 2001. I just did a simple table of annual job income by... MORE

NCAA Fesses Up--in Prime Time

Labor Market
David Henderson
The (subsidized) fix is in. There are over 400,000 NCAA student athletes. And just about all of us will be going pro in something other than sports. While the NCAA, with the above as its advertising line for the last... MORE

Another Look at Higher Education at the Margin

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Mark Thoma piqued my interest in a new paper by Jenny E. Brand and Yu Xie. For some individuals from socially advantaged backgrounds, college is a culturally expected outcome. For this group, college is less exclusively and intentionally linked to... MORE

The Plight of the Unskilled College Grad

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
I am just beginning to explore the issue of sorting out the economic value of college at the margin, rather than on average. One aspect of this is to distinguish between college graduates with skills and college graduates without skills,... MORE

Friday's Rant

Politics and Economics
Arnold Kling
I need to stop this. I don't want to turn into the Paul Krugman of the right.... MORE

Does Schooling Create Positive Externalities?

Economics of Education
David Henderson
Last night, I was a guest of San Jose State University's economics department on a bus ride through Pebble Beach, complete with drinks and hors d'oeuvres. The reason for the event: the annual Public Choice meetings are being held in... MORE

Your Public Education at Work

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
From an extremely interesting report by Adam Schaeffer: the Los Angeles metro area comes in third place for average real spending in our study.23 The average real per-pupil spending figure of $19,000 is a stunning 90 percent higher than the... MORE

My Letter on California Student Protests

Economics of Education
David Henderson
The following by me was the lead letter in my local newspaper, the Monterey County Herald, this morning: Professors went too far In a story Friday about the student protests of budget cuts, The Herald reported, "Some professors took students... MORE

Market Failure in Education

Upcoming Events
Arnold Kling
Bill Gates writes, So far technology has hardly changed formal education at all. But a lot of people, including me, think this is the next place where the Internet will surprise people in how it can improve things--especially in combination... MORE

The Ivory Tower: Do Non-Leftists Want In?

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Gross and Fosse have a supply-driven theory of leftist domination of higher education:A pair of sociologists think they may have an answer: typecasting. Conjure up the classic image of a humanities or social sciences professor, the fields where the imbalance... MORE

Recommended

Business Economics
Arnold Kling
Ben Casnocha dug up a James Fallows piece from 1985 on entrepreneurialism vs. credentialism. Fallows writes, Nowhere is the tension between the two cultures, the entrepreneurial and the professional, more evident at the moment than in American business. At just... MORE

Market Failure

Political Economy
Arnold Kling
I want to propose a new definition of market failure. For me, market failure exists to the extent that innovation is blocked by incumbents. If innovators can succeed by out-competing incumbents, then the market is working. If incumbents have a... MORE

Another Reason to Get an Econ Ph.D.

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Bruce Charlton says that the hard sciences just aren't fun anymore.  The system now rewards workaholism and subservience a lot more than creativity:Modern science is just too dull an activity to attract, retain or promote many of the most intelligent... MORE

Original or Distilled?

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
The Boston Globe reports on a site that posts students' notes on faculty lectures. Several professors, including the English professor and writer Louis Menand and the economist Greg Mankiw, have refused. Mankiw says he didn't want to make it easier... MORE

College and Value

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Kevin Carey writes, The average graduation rate at four-year colleges in the bottom half of the Barron's taxonomy of admissions selectivity is only 45 percent. And that's just the average-at scores of colleges, graduation rates are below 30 percent, and... MORE

Higher Education: The End Is Not Nigh

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Five years ago, I laughed at Alex Tabarrok for worrying that online instruction would put traditional colleges - and traditional professors like us - out of business.  He's still worried:[U]niversities will move to a superstar market for teachers in which... MORE

Educational Disintermediation

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Alex Tabarrok writes, I have argued that universities will move to a superstar market for teachers in which the very best teachers use on-line instruction and TAs to teach thousands of students at many different universities. What he is suggesting... MORE

UC Tuition: The Revolt of the Will-Haves

Economics of Education
David Henderson
Taxpayer funding of higher education is a forced transfer to the relatively wealthy Socialist author Robert Kuttner once called Proposition 13, California's 1978 property-tax-cut initiative, the revolt of the haves. The latest opposition by UC students to a 32% increase... MORE

The Signaling Model of Education Standing on One Foot

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Look at what people learn in the classroom.  Look at what people do on the job.  How much of a connection do you see?... MORE

Should College Attendance be Subsidized?

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Guess who said : Going to college is a lot like standing up at a concert to see better. Selfishly speaking, it works, but from a social point of view, we shouldn't encourage it. Answer here.... MORE

Steinbrenner U.

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Inside Higher Ed reports, A small number of colleges have become much more competitive over recent decades, according to Caroline M. Hoxby, an economist at Stanford University. But her study -- published by the National Bureau of Economic Research --... MORE

Tea and Empathy

Economics of Education
David Henderson
[BTW, I almost made it to the top of Half Dome. Last year, I was intimidated by the series of steep switchbacks just preceding the cables at the top. On Saturday, I got to the switchbacks, felt intimidated again, had... MORE

Bruce Charlton on IQ, Education, and Signaling

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
He writes, ...modern societies are currently vastly over-provided with formal education, and this education has the wrong emphasis. In particular, the job of sorting people by their general aptitude could be done more accurately, cheaply and quickly by using psychometrics... MORE

High School: Don't Bother to Graduate [UPDATE--my error]

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
Arnold Kling
David Card writes, I show that evidence from cross-city comparisons is remarkably consistent with recent findings from aggregate time series data. Both designs provide support for three key conclusions: (1) workers with below high school education are perfect substitutes for... MORE

Sacerdote's Dog That Didn't Bark

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
I keep thinking about Bruce Sacerdote's Korean adoption study.  I've read every twin and adoption paper I could find about parental influence on kids' educational outcomes.  Sacerdote's is the best of the bunch - the cleanest study, the clearest presentation,... MORE

A Paragraph to Ponder

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
From Mark C. Taylor, in an op-ed piece many New York Times readers found worth forwarding to one another. Graduate education is the Detroit of higher learning. Most graduate programs in American universities produce a product for which there is... MORE

Libertarians and Public Education

Political Economy
Arnold Kling
A reader asks, Do you believe that it is moral for universities to receive state funds? If so, how would you justify it? As a student that attends a state-funded university, I've had to think about this myself. I remember... MORE

College and Inequality

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Theda Skocpol and Suzanne Mettler write (free but awkward registration required), in 1970, 6.2 percent of the U.S. population in the bottom income quartile had completed a baccalaureate degree by age 24-and that percentage actually declined slightly, to 6 percent,... MORE

Education and Technology

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
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

Educational Obsession in Pop Culture

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
A former student emails me:I'm currently looking for any filmed clip of someone perpetuating the myth that college is a MUST for everyone.  I've found several Obama clips (surprise, surprise) but I'm looking for clips outside the political world; i.e.,... MORE

Short-term Success, Long-term Fizzle

Economic Methods
Arnold Kling
Gordon Dahl and Lance Lochner write (I can't find an ungated 2008 version of the paper, and the 2005 version seems to differ), Our baseline estimates imply that a $1,000 increase in income raises combined math and reading test... MORE

Health Care, Education, Spending, and Outcomes

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
I attended a Cato event at which Glen Whitman and Ezra Klein discussed health care spending. The main stylized fact is that those who spend more on health care do not necessarily get more. As Ezra puts it The evidence... MORE

Another Elite Blog

Economic Methods
Arnold Kling
It comes from Eric Drexler, the nanotech visionary. Pointer from Robin Hanson who I'm sure understands much more of what Drexler says than I do. My guess is that at the margin, scientific communication would benefit from more blogging and... MORE

Are Government Subsidies to Higher "Education" Justified?

Economics of Education
David Henderson
This month's featured article on Econlib is George Leef's "Are Government 'Investments' in Higher Education Worthwhile?" In his article, Leef points out that one cannot use decades-old data on the private return to spending on higher education to draw conclusions... MORE

Two Bad Ideas

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Louis Gerstner writes Abolish all local school districts, save 70 (50 states; 20 largest cities). Some states may choose to leave some of the rest as community service organizations, but they would have no direct involvement in the critical task... MORE

Size of School Districts

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Joshua Bordoff, Jason Bendor, andn Jason Furman wrote, Smaller school districts may also be more efficient (Barrow and Rouse 2002, p. 29, Fowler and Walbert 1991). This may result from the difficulties in dealing with a large organization that may... MORE

Channel Charles Murray

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
No one in the Cato Unbound exchange on Charles Murray's education book responded to my closing questions.  I asked Murray:In your view, why precisely does the market financially reward students for taking lots of classes that at best seem distantly... MORE

Sub-Prime Education

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Over at Cato Unbound, I praise Murray for highlighting the fact that many "investments" in education end in foreclosure - also known as "dropping out":[L]abor economists normally estimate the return to completed education.  It only takes a small drop-out rate... MORE

Murray and Me

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Over at Cato Unbound, Murray seems to be missing how much I agree with him:I guess I'm asking my colleagues to step back from a system that worked for them and consider the large majority of young people who are... MORE

Why Charles Murray Should Take Signaling Seriously

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
I critique Charles Murray's work on education at the latest Cato Unbound.  My thesis: Murray is great on the facts, but muddled on theory.  He's one of the few scholars to notice the flimsiness of the connection between higher education... MORE

Explaining Inequality

Income Distribution
Arnold Kling
Nick Schulz and I write, It might seem natural to pin the blame for the disappointing rate of high school graduation and college training on America's education system. However, Heckman and others find little evidence that education can reduce differences... MORE

Supporting Goldin-Katz

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Jason Malloy writes, merely earning a Bachelor's degree is a golden ticket. People with average and below average IQs are getting just as much of a financial return out of their 4-year degree as those above the 85th percentile. This... MORE

We Don't Need No, Continued

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Steven Yamarik writes, Labour economists have estimated the micro-Mincerian wage equation using different time periods, samples, and econometric techniques. For the US, the private return to schooling ranges from 4 %to 16% with a consensus estimate is around 10%. The... MORE

Two Essays on Today's Youth

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
From William Pannapacker, aka Thomas H. Benton, here and here. From the second essay: Essentially I see students having difficulty following or making extended analytical arguments. In particular, they tend to use easily obtained, superficial, and unreliable online sources as... MORE

Charles Murray and the Dilemmas of Education

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
After reading Real Education, by Charles Murray, I decided that there are three dilemmas in education. 1. What do we do about inequality in incomes depending on education levels? 2. Should the curriculum be designed by experts or emerge in... MORE

Liberal Fascism Watch

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Shikha Dalmia and Lisa Snell write The only preschool programs that seem to do more good than harm are very intense interventions targeted toward severely disadvantaged kids. A 1960s program in Ypsilanti, Mich., a 1970s program in Chapel Hill, N.C.,... MORE

How Schooling is Like Garbage Collection

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Schooling has a high private financial return. But most people don't finish college; many don't even finish high school. Lots of economists are baffled by these facts, and spin complex theories to explain them. At the same time, however, I've... MORE

Charles Murray's Solution to Signaling

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
It looks like Charles Murray embraces the signaling model of education:Outside a handful of majors -- engineering and some of the sciences -- a bachelor's degree tells an employer nothing except that the applicant has a certain amount of intellectual... MORE

We Don't Need No

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Charles Murray says, Young people entering the job market should have a known, trusted measure of their qualifications they can carry into job interviews. That measure should express what they know, not where they learned it or how long it... MORE

Edison Schools' Failure

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
The American Prospect Gloats, Edison learned what career educators have always known: Managing schools isn't as simple as it first might seem. The idea behind for-profit public education was that districts would turn over school budgets to Edison, plus supplemental... MORE

Poverty, Math Assessments, and Spending in Maryland

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Spending data for the 2005-2006 school year can be found at the National Center for Education Statistics. Data for the total number of students, the total number of FARMS students (free and reduced meals, an indicator of poverty), and the... MORE

More Real-time Education Research

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Michael Rizzo does New York. He finds no difference in school spending between schools "above the line" (high pass rates relative to their poverty index) and those below the line. However, the regression line appears to do a very poor... MORE

My Schooling Chart for Pennsylvania

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
K DeRosa draws the chart that I proposed. Here is the chart for 497 school districts in Pennsylvania for 2005. On the X axis I have the percentage of students in the district that do not receive free and reduced... MORE

Fuzzy Math

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
The Washington Post reports, Upon the debut of the Maryland School Assessments in 2003, Montgomery County ranked second in the state in math, with 67 percent of students passing tests in elementary and middle school. This year, the county ranks... MORE

Boys, Girls, and Math

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
A study by Janet Hyde, Sara Lindberg, Amy Ellis and Carolyn Williams is getting a lot of publicity (two non-academic friends brought it up in conversation lastnight). They find that boys and girls do not differ in their performance on... MORE

Education: Is There a Massive Market Failure?

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Goldin and Katz get more press. "There has been much more growth of inequality among college graduates than among noncollege workers," Katz says. Only some people, he says, are coming out of college with the high-level abstract-reasoning skills that fully... MORE

Goldin-Katz Filters into the Mainstream

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
David Brooks writes, During the 20th century, Americans were better educated than the citizens of any other power. Since 1970, that lead has been forfeited, producing inequality and wage stagnation. To compete, the U.S. will require a series of human... MORE

Hanushek on Education

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
In the latest podcast, Russ Roberts interviews Eric Hanushek. Hanushek describes some natural experiments in education with statistical properties that I can actually understand. In a number of cases judges interpreted state constitutions as requiring states to increase funding for... MORE

Reverse Ability Bias

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
David Card writes, estimates based on supply-side innovations tend to recover returns to education for a subset of individuals with relatively high returns to education. Let me try to put that into English. The conventional wisdom is that when somebody... MORE

The Goldin-Katz Swindle

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
On p. 96 of their new book, Claudia Goldin and Lawrence F. Katz provide a table on the composition of the U.S. labor force in terms of educational background, based on historical census data. The percentage of high school graduates... MORE

Bryan Caplan Joins the Pigou Club

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
He writes, Question: If signaling has negative externalities, could government action make matters more efficient? Answer: Yes - government could tax education. Then everyone could get half as much education and still get the same job offers. No, this is... MORE

Goldin and Katz

Human Capital: Returns to entrepreneurs, skills, etc.
Arnold Kling
I have ordered their new book, after seeing it mentioned in David Leonhardt's column in the New York Times. An excerpt from the book is here. For cohorts born from the 1870s to about 1950, every decade was accompanied by... MORE

A Hazy Question

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Stephen Dubner looks at a reader's question of who is the greatest modern thinker. I love this question. It first requires you to define what a “thinker” is, and also raises the question of what incentives exist in the modern... MORE

Do Grad Students Really Swagger?

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Maybe in Arnold and Megan's experience, but not in mine. At both Princeton and George Mason, I found one of students' main problems to be low morale. This ends up being a self-fulfilling prophesy: Students with low morale don't try... MORE

Heckman on Inequality

Income Distribution
Arnold Kling
James Heckman writes, Family environments of young children are major predictors of cognitive and socioemotional abilities, as well as a variety of outcomes such as crime and health. ...Family environments in the U.S. and many other countries around the world... MORE

Domestic Issues

Income Distribution
Arnold Kling
Income distribution, education, health care, and oil prices. David Henderson rushes in where few right-of-center economists dare to tread. He talks about the income distribution. The average number of earners per family for the top quintile is 2.16, almost three... MORE

A Sentence Too Good to Miss

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
a donation to Harvard is an act of conspicuous consumption by the rich, a bit like buying the watch that doesn't tell time. Tyler Cowen, and there is more with reading.... MORE

Co-operative Signaling

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Arnold Kling
One of the examples that comes up in the Robin Hanson podcast concerns dating. If the point is to signal to the person that you are healthy, wealthy, and intelligent, why not just bring your health records, your bank statement,... MORE

Attending College != Graduating College

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
In the June issue of The Atlantic, "Professor X" rants, Students routinely fail; some fail multiple times, and some will never pass, because they cannot write a coherent sentence Perhaps Tyler Cowen was implicitly referring to that article. In any... MORE

Overqualified: What's the Deal?

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
From Richard Rothstein at Cato Unbound:College graduates are, in fact, not in short supply. Indeed, some college graduates are now forced to take jobs requiring only high-school educations. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that, for the next decade, only... MORE

Important Data on Access to College

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
From an column in the Chronicle of Higher Education. Among high-school students who graduated in the bottom 40 percent [UPDATE/correction]: in a comment, Adelman writes that this is the bottom 20 percent] of their classes, and whose first institutions were... MORE

Assortative Living

Political Economy
Arnold Kling
Reviewing a book by Bill Bishop, Alan Ehrenhalt writes, there is one simple statistic, rightly seized on by Mr. Bishop, that is difficult to explain away. It is this: In 1976, less than a quarter of the American people lived... MORE

I'm frankly puzzled by Tyler's latest attack on the signaling model of education. Not only does he merely repeat an argument that I previously answered; but he fails to tell readers about a new and improved version of his argument... MORE

Education, Assortative Mating, and Inequality

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
I am going to combine comments on two papers cited by Tyler Cowen. First, he cites a paper on inequality and mobility. It argues that skill differentials are widening, and that parental education seems to be increasingly important. (Note that... MORE

Posner on What Teachers Want

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Here's Richard Posner being unusually blunt and insightful even for him:From the standpoint of most teachers, right up to and including the level of teachers of college undergraduates, the ideal student is well behaved, unaggressive, docile, patient, meticulous, and empathetic... MORE

Why Colleges Need More Money

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Inside Higher Ed has the scoop. the majority of full-time professional employees in higher education are in administrative rather than faculty jobs. A university consists of a faculty attached to a fundraising apparatus, where it used to be the other... MORE

What Causes Educational Inequality?

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Brink Lindsey writes the upper-middle-class kid grows up in an environment that constantly pushes him to develop the cognitive and motivational skills needed to be a good student; the low-income kid's environment, on the other hand, pushes in the opposite... MORE

Arithmetic and Language

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
This is interesting, if only tenuously related to economics. English-speaking children, who are prone to such errors as “twenty-eight, twenty-nine, twenty-ten, twenty-eleven.” French is just as bad, with vestigial base-twenty monstrosities, like quatre-vingt-dix-neuf (“four twenty ten nine”) for 99. Chinese,... MORE

Economics in the Classroom

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
An anonymous teacher says, I was desperate -- every day I went home feeling like I was escaping a war zone -- and so I set up a classroom economy, a variant of what the behaviorists call "token reinforcement." I... MORE

School Choice Pessimism

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Sol Stern writes, If Hoxby and Peterson were right in asserting that markets were enough to fix our education woes, then the ed schools wouldn’t be the disasters that Hirsch, Ravitch, and others have exposed. Unlike the government-run K–12 schools,... MORE

High School Graduation Rates

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
James J. Heckman and Paul A. LaFontaine write (here is the abstract, the U.S. high school graduation rate peaked at around 80 percent in the late 1960s and then declined by 4-5 percentage points; (2) the actual high school graduation... MORE

What Nick is Reading

Finance: stocks, options, etc.
Arnold Kling
Nick Schulz sends me three interesting links. 1. A shining example of what I call a bogus mortgage lender. In 2004, Bohan Group, a due diligence underwriting company, was hired by a bank to double-check the suitability of mortgages written... MORE

How Much AA at TJ?

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
U.S. News and World Report says that Northern Virginia's Thomas Jefferson (TJ) is the best public high school in the country. Here's a neat paper by Lloyd Cohen of the GMU Law School estimating the extent of AA (or as... MORE

Tolstoy on the Economics of Education

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Here's a fascinating dialogue on the economics of education from Anna Karenina. Two country gentlemen - Levin and Sviiazhsky - are arguing about how to raise farm productivity. Sviiazhsky's answer: `To educate the people three things are needed: schools, and... MORE

Mentioning IQ and race

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
My latest essay tries to sort out the issues of race, IQ, and education. Earlier, I said that my preferred approach is individualism. To understand this approach, try this thought experiment: imagine if everyone suddenly were afflicted with group-identity amnesia.... MORE

Academic Corruption Index?

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Some countries are more corrupt than others: Haiti is not Finland. Measures like the Corruption Perceptions Index attempt to quantify these differences. Some academic disciplines are more bogus than others: Women's Studies is not Mathematics. But as far as I... MORE

Not Groupthink

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Daniel B. Klein and Charlotta Stern discuss how academic disciplines become dominated by particular ideologies. At the very top departments, more than 90 percent come from the worldwide top-35 departments; the top is almost entirely self-regenerating. They call the result... MORE

Flynn on IQ and Education

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
James Flynn writes, Two twins raised apart, thanks to having slightly better genes than average, would both get into increasingly privileged environments. Both would get more teacher attention, would be encouraged to do more homework, would get into a top... MORE

Reflection #1 inspired by the Social Philosophy and Policy conference: In academic economics, the ultimate scarce good is the right to write pieces in plain English for top journals. We ration it by putting economists famous for their mathematical and... MORE

Reading Instruction

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
From a transcript of a panel on reading instruction, here is Dr. Reid Lyon: The biggest impediment to kids’ learning to read is not biological or genetic: it’s instructional. Instructional casualties account for the majority of that 50–60 percent of... MORE

Random Things to Read

Income Distribution
Arnold Kling
Terry J. Fitzgerald in the Minneapolis Fed Review: Fringe benefits have become an increasingly important part of employee compensation over the past 30 years. The BLS estimates that benefits currently account for about 30 percent of employer costs for employee... MORE

Rodrik on Blogging and Lemons

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Dani Rodrik writes, if economists with high opportunity costs of time start to get out, shall we have a lemons problem on our hands? Will eventually the only prolific bloggers remain the ones that are not worth reading? It takes... MORE

Odyssey Years

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
David Brooks writes, People who were born before 1964 tend to define adulthood by certain accomplishments — moving away from home, becoming financially independent, getting married and starting a family. In 1960, roughly 70 percent of 30-year-olds had achieved these... MORE

Your PC Experience

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Two last questions on political correctness: 1. What's the worst PC experience you've ever personally had? 2. What's the worst PC experience anyone you personally know has ever had? My answers: 1. My worst experience: Hearing second-hand that a student... MORE

I'll Back Down on PC

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Not that I agree completely with what Bryan says, but I do admit that I do not wish to join an anti-PC crusade. I think that the real problem is that the academy has been dumbed down. PC is a... MORE

PC and Availability Bias

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
I agree with Arnold that Harvard did Larry Summers wrong. In fact, whenever I hear an anecdote about PC run amok, I normally take the side of the whoever gave offense. Nevertheless, I still think the PC threat to higher... MORE

Is Firing the President of Harvard Overblown?

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Bryan asks if PC persecution is overblown. I suppose that the term "overblown" can be construed liberally enough (so to speak) to make it impossible to settle the matter. But you might want to re-read this post and consider the... MORE

Is P.C. Persecution Overblown?

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
I just got an invitation to see Indoctrinate U, a documentary on the tyranny of political correctness in higher education. The trailer left me with a furrowed brow. Why? Because in all honesty, I've never been the target of p.c.... MORE

Back to School Edition

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Charles Murray says college admissions offices should stop using the SAT and instead use the SAT 2's (what we used to call the achievement tests). Getting rid of the SAT will destroy the coaching industry as we know it. ...A... MORE

What Professors Want

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Ben Stein writes, To make friends with your teachers, try the following: • Read your assignments and be ready to discuss them. I can tell you, based on my years of teaching at glorious American University, stupendously beautiful University of... MORE

Economics Education for High School Students

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
The assessment of high school students' knowledge of economics made a big splash in the news recently. See Matthew Yglesias or, for that matter, today's Washington Post. I was more interested in the standards being used than in the results.... MORE

Around our Library

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Our Library of Economics and Liberty has a lot of interesting new stuff this week. 1. On Econtalk, Eric Hanushek argues that: --human capital is measured more accurately by performance on standardized tests than by years of schooling --better teachers... MORE

A Book is Just a Very Long Text Message

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
What do you think of this? Launched in England less than a year ago, ICUE software lets users read novels on their cell phone without the irritation of constantly scrolling through blocks of text displayed on the small screen. Instead,... MORE

A Business Idea for Education

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
On this post, a commenter writes, I was thinking of providing my children with exceptional tutors from various disciplines in addition to their regular curriculum. Aristocrats would frequently engage proven scholars to teach their children. Good private schools today attempt... MORE

Teachers and Stardom

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
A reader sends in this question: CBS Sunday Morning knocked multi-million dollar baseball salaries this morning and lamented that teachers are much more poorly paid. Then I wondered, why do teachers not market themselves? How come there are no teaching... MORE

Richard Vedder, Sounding Reasonable

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Richard Vedder writes The more evidence that I see that I believe is creditable and meaningful, the more I am convinced of the following: * Too many students, not too few, are going to college; * College and universities are... MORE

My next book will use the under-valued signaling model to make The Case Against Education. On his blog, Tyler hasn't been buying my story:If education is pure signaling, just give everyone a standardized test in seventh grade and then close... MORE

Against Adolescence

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Robert Epstein says, I believe that young people should have more options—the option to work, marry, own property, sign contracts, start businesses, make decisions about health care and abortions, live on their own—every right, privilege, or responsibility an adult has.... MORE

Economics of College and Sports

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Skip Sauer writes, I find the current state of sports a bit puzzling. I spoke at a local function yesterday and was asked the question whether pro sports were "pricing themselves out of the market." This was once an old... MORE

Economics of Education Over the Virtual Lunchtable

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
I haven't had a joint lunch with Robin Hanson and Tyler Cowen for two weeks, but we're having a substitute meal (minus food) in the MR comments section. Tyler: Income distribution thus depends on the balance between technological progress and... MORE

Tyler Cowen on Income Inequality

Income Distribution
Arnold Kling
(I swear I posted on this first thing this morning, and now it's gone. It was a good post, too. I'm attempting to remember it here.) Tyler Cowen writes, For the economy as a whole, labor’s share of national income... MORE

Overcoming Signaling

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Arnold makes a very interesting remark: I think that it is difficult for an entrepreneur to compete in the signalling market, because it is hard to establish the credibility of your signalling mechanism. I would go further. It is difficult... MORE

The Creation of Ritual Goods

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Bryan writes, If you think that entrepreneurs can easily find a cheaper way to certify worker quality, why can't entrepreneurs easily find a cheaper way to reinforce membership in the "upper and/or upper-middle class tribe"? The context is that we... MORE

Education Signaling: Is Entrepreneurship a Solution?

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Arnold repeats an earlier argument against the signaling model of education: I don't believe the signalling story, because of the point Wilkinson makes. If it costs $200,000 for a person to go to an elite private school, and this does... MORE

Progressive Taxation is Anti-Education?

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Gary Becker and Kevin Murphy make the case. For many, the solution to an increase in inequality is to make the tax structure more progressive—raise taxes on high-income households and reduce taxes on low-income households. While this may sound sensible,... MORE

College Admission Statistics

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Andrew Samwick writes, I've taken a 5-school moving average by rank here to make the graph more readable. By rank 11, we're at an acceptance rate of about 20%. By rank 21, we're above 30%. In the low- to mid-30s,... MORE

Get the Best Education in the World, Absolutely Free!

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Here's Robin Hanson making a point I always tell my labor students: The best education in the world is already free of charge. Just go to the best university in the world and start attending classes. Stay as long as... MORE

Average vs. Marginal

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
In the Milken Institute Review, Kevin Lang writes, Is teenage motherhood one of the means by which poverty is passed from generation to generation, or are both teenage motherhood and adult poverty consequences of the same childhood disadvantages? There are... MORE

Abolish High School?

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Robert Epstein writes, although it’s efficient to cram all apparently essential knowledge into the first two decades of life, the main thing we teach most students with this approach is to hate school. In today’s fast-paced world, education needs to... MORE

Education Against Art

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
From Rolling Stone's review of Grindhouse: As the late critic Pauline Kael famously stated, "Irresponsibility is part of the pleasure of all art; it is the part the schools cannot recognize." The whole movie's a fun ride, but Tarantino's half... MORE

A Single Person With Doubts About the "Gap Year"

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Arnold writes: I carry around an entrepreneurial idea of an American equivalent of the "gap year," which would be a year of education in between high school and college. This year would involve finding a part-time job, living in and... MORE

Helping the Wrong Side

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Iqbal Quadir: The UN should empower the people, not empower their governments. And if they cannot empower the people they can just shut it off. My point is that helping the wrong side is harmful. So if they cannot help... MORE

Show Me the Way

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
My goal: Get a reasonably large number of college (or even high school) graduates to go over their transcripts, and state, course-by-course, how often they take what they learned in school and apply it on the job. Respondents should have... MORE

Education: Practicality vs. Rate of Return

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
I'm fortunate to have Prof. Karl Smith of Modeled Behavior reading my posts on education. In response to my claim that educators overestimate the practicality of education, Smith writes: I think those who spend their lives in academia will tend... MORE

Bryan on Education

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
I like his first post on this new book idea better than his second. I agree that the demand for education is artificially high. However, I disagree that the main reason for this is that education primarily performs a signaling... MORE

The Education of Educators

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
I've often blogged about the dangers of selection bias (see here and here). So in writing a book about education, I have to wonder: To what extent is my personal experience atypical? My main answer: My personal experience exaggerates the... MORE

Page One of My Next Book

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
I've started writing my next book, tentatively entitled The Case Against Education: A Professional Student Explains Why Our Education System is a Big Waste of Time and Money. Here's page one: I have been in school continuously for the last... MORE

Two Cowenian Tenure Claims

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Tyler has chimed in on tenure with a bizarre dadaism and a serious challenge: Bizarre Dadaism: To put it bluntly, the tenure system works because for many people their "output" doesn't matter in the first place; tenure is however wonderful... MORE

Earth to Educators: People Hate School

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Brad DeLong raises an important puzzle: One would have thought that the rise in the value of a sheepskin from a 30% lifetime wage premium over a high-school diploma in 1975 to a 90% premium in 2005 would have called... MORE

Where Does the Money Go?

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Greg Mankiw writes, Harvard tuition is about $30K (not counting room and board). Assuming 4 classes each of the two 12-week semesters and 3 class hours a week in each class, one finds that each hour class at Harvard costs... MORE

Interesting Experiment in Education

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Po Bronson reports, Blackwell split her kids into two groups for an eight-session workshop. The control group was taught study skills, and the others got study skills and a special module on how intelligence is not innate. These students took... MORE

Britain's Bureaucratic State

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Theodore Dalrymple writes Schools may no longer exclude disruptive children—that would be the very opposite of social inclusion—so a handful of such children may render quite pointless hundreds or even thousands of hours of schooling for scores or even hundreds... MORE

Giving Up, Failing Out, and the Return to Education

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Borrowers rarely default on their loans. Nevertheless, differences in default rates have huge effect on rates of return. Suppose, for example, that two lenders charge 3% interest, but one has a default rate of 1% and the other has a... MORE

Thoughts on Education

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
In this essay, I pull together thoughts on education, based on my reaction to Charles Murray's recent op-eds. He tends to treat IQ as if it were a measure of one's capacity to hold knowledge, like the volume of a... MORE

Public School Choice

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Reihan Salam writes, To understand why Mike Bloomberg's latest round of proposed school reforms is so bloody brilliant, read Lisa Snell on the weighted student formula. The New York Sun points out that WSF bears a faint resemblance to a... MORE

Charles Murray on Education

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
He writes, it makes sense for only about 15% of the population, 25% if one stretches it, to get a college education. And yet more than 45% of recent high school graduates enroll in four-year colleges... No data that I... MORE

Nobel Prize Trends

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Tyler Cowen points to a paper by Bruce G. Charlton which uses Nobel Prizes as an indicator of trends in research quality. Cowen picks out the fact that the Western U.S. has been gaining at the expense of Europe and... MORE

Collegiate Writing

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
George Leef writes, On October 2, The Conference Board, an organization of American businesses, released a survey entitled “Are They Really Ready for Work?” The report, which was based on responses from 431 employers, hardly gives a ringing endorsement of... MORE

At Least They Beat Christmas Carols

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Mankiw's got a good econo-parody here. I wrote this and this back in grad school, for a Christmas skit that never was.... MORE

Mayor Bloomberg Misses the Problem

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
He writes, we have built too many bureaucracies that lack clear lines of accountability, which means that mediocrity and failure are tolerated, and excellence goes unrewarded. We recruit a disproportionate share of teachers from among the bottom third of their... MORE

My Education Rant

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
is here. I fear that many of the students who pass will go on to earn Wizard-of-Oz diplomas, which signify nothing. Students will claim to be educated, but employers will know otherwise. The phenomenon of the Wizard-of-Oz diploma has discredited... MORE

Difference in Deference

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Over at Overcoming Bias, Robin Hanson amusingly contrasts the abject deference the public gives to physicists with the stubborn defiance the public gives to economists: Consider how differently the public treats physics and economics. Physicists can say that this week... MORE

Staffing of Schools

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Andrew Coulson writes Teachers make up 72 percent of on-site staff in Arizona’s independent education sector, but less than half of on-site staff in the public sector. In order to match the independent sector’s emphasis on teachers over non-teaching staff,... MORE

The Value of a College Education

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
David Wessel writes, Although the best-paid college grads are doing well, wages of college grads have fallen on average, after adjusting for inflation, in the past five years. The only group that enjoyed rising wages between 2000 (just before the... MORE

Why is Education so Primitive?

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Alex Tabarrok asks "Why is Medicine so Primitive?" One reason is that medicine is the largest area of the economy still dominated by artisanal production. I will be blunt: We need assembly line medicine, medicine that is routinized, marked and... MORE

Offshore Tutoring

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
This was bound to happen. Her 13-year-old daughter, Taylor, is one of 1,100 Americans enrolled in Bangalore-based TutorVista, which launched U.S. services last November with a staff of 150 "e-tutors" mostly in India with a fee of $100 a month... MORE

Free Education Valued at Cost

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Mankiw notes that Yale is offering some free education over the web, and wonders whether this is "the beginning of a big change in the industrial organization of higher education?" I say: No Way. Lots of people want an Ivy... MORE

College Education Oversold?

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
George C. Leef writes, we waste resources on a more extensive higher education system than is necessary. We employ more professors, administrators, and support personnel than would be the case if individuals were not subsidized and prodded to attend college.... MORE

Test Scores and Economic Performance

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Gary Becker writes, One of the challenging paradoxes during the past several decades is that American teenagers have consistently performed below average on international tests in math and sciences, and not especially well on reading tests, yet the American economy... MORE

Harvard's Decision on Early Decision

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Greg Mankiw comments on Harvard's decision to end early decision in the admissions process. The early admission process has been becoming increasingly strategic on the part of both schools and students, and this game playing does not seem to serve... MORE

School Reform

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Expanding an idea I first tossed out on this blog, I write, A simple way to separate the teacher from the exam is to exchange grading responsibilities. For example, have the teacher of "algebra 2" make up and grade the... MORE

Preferring Ignorance

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
My latest essay says, Imagine what might happen if one were to run a controlled experiment, pooling a group of students and randomly assigning them to different schools. Would the "good" suburban school really do better than the "failing" urban... MORE

The Market For Scientific Superstars

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Austan Goolsbee writes, Landing the best scientists in the world can start a place on the way to economic superstardom. The catch is, there are not many superstars and they mainly want to be near one another. The study covered... MORE

The Quotable Kling

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Arnold quiped: "[H]igher education is the only product where the consumer tries to get as little out of it as possible." If I wind up writing a book on education, that quote will be very prominently displayed! I can't think... MORE

College Customers vs. Suppliers

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Following a link from Alex Tabarrok, I see that Angry Professor writes, The marginal departments, the ones with the lowest possible academic standards, are pulling in vast numbers of warm bodies and the tuition dollars associated with them. I recall... MORE

Market Failure in HIgher Education?

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Libertarian Jeff Miron asks, In what sense is Democratic predominance a problem? And what "market failure" is responsible? Perhaps the truth is that many conservatives do not really believe in competition; instead they want conservative ideas imposed because these ideas... MORE

Segregation Equilibrium

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
From a summary of a study by Donald Haurin and David Brasington: The study of Ohio school districts showed that an increase of about 20 percentage points in the proficiency test “pass rate” increased house values in a district about... MORE

The College Choice

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Arnold Kling
Concerning the choice of where to attend collegeTyler Cowen asks, If parents (and their children) are loaded with biases, is behavioral economics useful? I suspect the core bias is parents wanting to feel they have done everything possible to help... MORE

Accreditation of Colleges

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Inside Higher Ed reports, Dickeson’s paper suggests, because accreditation is the primary system responsible for gauging the performance and ensuring the success of higher education in the United States. If the quality of American higher education is slipping, as the... MORE

My undergrads think that a Mason win in basketball will lead to skyrocketing applications. Russ Roberts isn't so sure.... MORE

Credentialism Trap?

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Now Bryan writes, It is also important for employees to be conscientious and conformist. And while we can accurately assess someone's intelligence with a short IQ test, it's a lot harder to find out how conscientious and conformist someone is.... MORE

College and Summer Camp

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Bryan writes, I've been defending the signaling model to other economists for 15 years, and always met fierce resistance. Frankly, I think that this resistance mostly stems from a failure of introspection. If you really compare what you learned in... MORE

What Does Education Do?

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Tyler Cowen speculates Men are born beasts. But education gives you a peer group, a self-image, and some skills as well. Getting an education is like becoming a Marine. Men need to be made into Marines. By choosing many years... MORE

Education Spending

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Ken of Upper Left Coast came up with an analogy between Maryland's Walmart Law and a proposed reform for public education. I wonder if those who rejoiced in the passage of Maryland's law -- and who, I'm relatively certain, gave... MORE

School Voucher Ruling

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
The Florida Supreme Court decided that school vouchers violate the state constitution. The narrow question we address is whether [vouchers] violates a part of the Florida Constitution requiring the state to both provide for “the education of all children residing... MORE

Inefficient Subsidies

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
James C. Garland writes, state higher-education budgets are not targeted efficiently. By way of comparison, consider the food stamp program, which in 2004 paid out $27 billion directly to 24 million low-income Americans. Imagine if there were, in its place,... MORE

College Illiteracy

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
The Washington Post reports Literacy experts and educators say they are stunned by the results of a recent adult literacy assessment, which shows that the reading proficiency of college graduates has declined in the past decade, with no obvious explanation.... MORE

Sociologists' Self-Criticism

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
I've heard a lot of people complain about extreme left-wing bias in sociology, but I had no idea that sociologists themselves were complaining about it. A forthcoming paper by Dan Klein and Charlotta Stern provides the inside scoop. One highlight:... MORE

School Choice

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
A Symposium in Reason Magazine: We asked a dozen experts what reforms they think are most necessary and promising to improve American education. We also asked them to identify the biggest obstacles to positive change. Some folks give predictable answers... MORE

Collegiate Aristocracy

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
My alma mater, Swarthmore College, sent out a mailing (I can't find it online) that begins, Swarthmore charges $41,280 per student in tuition and fees, and its endowment reached nearly $1.2 billion...Isn't that enough money for a small college...is it... MORE

Education as a Positional Good

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Chris Dillow cuts right to the heart of an issue I've danced around on this blog a number of times. Say I were to claim the following: lots of middle class parents care only about the relative quality of their... MORE

Males, Females, and College

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
USA Today writes, Currently, 135 women receive bachelor's degrees for every 100 men. That gender imbalance will widen in the coming years, according to a new report by the U.S. Department of Education. (I got to the story by following... MORE

The Education Gap

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Mark Thoma writes, David Brooks says, "Especially in these days after Katrina, everybody laments poverty and inequality. But what are you doing about it? For example, let's say you work at a university or a college. You are a cog... MORE

Greed and Price-Gouging

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Robert M. Dunn complains, The disparities in college endowments are enormous. As of mid 2004, Harvard, Yale, and Princeton had average endowments of $14.9 billion, while three private institutions of similar size, George Washington University, Georgetown, and American University, averaged... MORE

Academic Merit vs. Economic Merit

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
In response to Bryan's post on the role of "pity grades" in undermining academic meritocracy, Jane Galt writes, I find it odd, too, that so many academics profess to be egalitarians, yet academia as a whole has produced one of... MORE

Holding Pen Update

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
The Christian Science Monitor reports, It seems the popularity of makeover shows on television, such as "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" and "Design on a Dime," has fueled a decorating craze on college campuses... Spending on dorm and apartment... MORE

The Economics and Philosophy of Pity Grades

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
More students than I care to remember have argued with me about their grades. But there is one argument that I always dismiss out of hand: "You should raise my grade because I NEED a higher grade!" I don't do... MORE

Improving Student Evaluations

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
When professors complain about grade inflation, they rarely mention that their students are the easiest graders of all. The main way that colleges evaluate professors' teaching is with student evaluations. Students typically rate how good their professor was on a... MORE

Over-qualified?

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
This rant struck me, mostly because it is strikingly consistent with my 22-year-old's experience. Dear current Management-Generation of Cubicle Land, please understand that: 1. My generation was misinformed—by elders and fortune—about the value of our college degrees. $120,000 of your/our... MORE

Heckman interview

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
I strongly second Don Boudreaux' recommendation to read this interview with James Heckman. A few excerpts (but do go read the whole thing): what do the GEDs earn? They earn what high school dropouts who do not get GEDs earn,... MORE

Globalized Education?

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
James Miller writes, My employer, Smith College, should hire a few score smart Indians to grade for their faculty and in return Smith should expect its professors to spend more time in the classroom. High schools should similarly outsource their... MORE

The Wealthiest Churches

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Here is a list of universities with the highest endowments. Forty-seven have assets of more than $1 billion. The total assets of these top forty-seven is over $150 billion. It appears that California and Texas have their entire state university... MORE

Libertarianism at Harvard

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Jeff Miron, another Bernie-Saffran-influenced economist, is teaching a course on libertarianism at Harvard. The lecture notes are available in pdf format. One of the papers on the reading list for the course, is an article by Miron questioning the case... MORE

Do Facts Matter?

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
In the recent Larry Summers flap, his chief antagonist was Nancy Hopkins, an MIT biologist. A reader forwarded me a link to a paper by Patricia Hausman and James H. Steiger on an earlier Hopkins controversy. the 1999 publication of... MORE

More on the Reformation

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Steven Roy Goodman writes, Colleges have long been hotbeds of political agitation, of course. But where it was once students who did the acting out, as they spread their intellectual and philosophical wings, now the professors and administrators are more... MORE

Academic Self-selection

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Andrew Samwick writes, An elite university is like a kibbutz hooked up to an ATM. It is the closest thing we may ever find to a socialist enterprise that endures. The key element of the kibbutz--that the workers collectively decide... MORE

Feelings vs. Consequences

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Pre-kindergarten education is one of those policies that feels right to do-gooders. What are the actual consequences? According to an NBER report, early education does increase reading and mathematics skills at school entry, but it also boosts children's classroom behavioral... MORE

Beyond Reform?

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
The book Beyond the Classroom, by Laurence Steinberg, suggests that school performance depends on factors that are outside the control of the school. He focuses on the issue of student engagement. When highly engaged students are in class, they are... MORE

Does the Academy need a Reformation?

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
In this essay, I write The Catholic Church in 1500 was a debased, corrupt monopoly. It collected onerous taxes, which people paid because they believed that there was no alternative if they wanted a decent afterlife. However, inwardly people seethed... MORE

The Summers Flap, Continued

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
In this essay, I use the Lawrence Summers controversy as a jumping-off point for some idle speculation about gender differences in the world of academics and business. My experience is that in male-dominated organizational groups...Guys tend to flatter the boss... MORE

The Summers Speech

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
There has been a lot of controversy over Harvard President Lawrence Summers' talk at an NBER conference about gender differences in faculty in science and engineering. Harvard has posted a transcript of the talk. One excerpt: The second problem is... MORE

Economics of Higher Education

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
James B. Twitchell writes, At the turn of the 20th century, one percent of high school graduates attended college; that figure is now close to 70 percent. This is an industry that produces a yearly revenue flow more than six... MORE

Education Loans

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
When I taught "Economics for the Citizen" this past fall at George Mason, I included a unit on education. In the latest issue of the Becker-Posner blog, Richard Posner brings up a point that I wrestled with in class. But... MORE

Read What Arnold Says

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
On C-span last night, I happened to hear part of the State of California Speech. In addition to a recognizable name, the Governor of California has interesting ideas. We must financially reward good teachers and expel those who are not.... MORE

Teacher, teach thyself economics

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Columbia University Teachers College Professor Amy Stuart Wells writes, policymakers should amend state laws to better support the high-achieving charter schools and close the rest. And I hope they will also remember the hard lesson learned from this reform: that... MORE

Education Outcomes and Spending

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
An OECD report on comparative performance of high school students in different countries is receiving a lot of attention. Overall, wealthier countries tend to do better in educational terms than poor nations, but there are exceptions: Korea's national income, for... MORE

Tournament Ranking of Colleges

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Christopher Avery, Mark Glickman, Caroline Hoxby, and Andrew Metrick use a chess-rating methodology to rank colleges. If a student admitted to both Harvard and Yale selects Harvard, then that is a "win" for Harvard. The schools that rank at the... MORE

Education and Growth

Growth: Causal Factors
Arnold Kling
Alison Wolf challenges the conventional wisdom. large international studies often find a negative relationship between education and growth rates. Egypt is a classic example of this. Between 1970 and 1998, its primary school enrollment rates grew to over 90%, secondary... MORE

Higher Education Lobby

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
The Washington Post looks into one of the dirty little secrets about the higher education industry: its intense political lobbying. The more-established schools want to block legislation that would, among other things, make it easier for students to transfer academic... MORE

Policy Specifics

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
In my latest essay, I look at the specifics of the President Bush's economic proposals. Overall, I am afraid that the President's concept of the "ownership society" owes more to David Brooks than it does to Stephen Bainbridge. But the... MORE

Support for Higher Education

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Jeff Madrick argues for more aid to higher education. the case for investing in higher education is stronger than ever. We of course all know some people with a great education who earn a lot less than their peers with... MORE

Economics of Higher Education Subsidies

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
I discuss the economics of government subsidies to higher education. The end result is that even though government subsidizes higher education, and even though most economists believe that higher education enhances productivity, the government subsidies do not result in higher... MORE

Compulsory Cultural Exchange?

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
In this essay, I propose a compulsory cultural exchange to try to improve national cohesiveness. With a cultural exchange program of this sort, the children of the liberal elites could experience first-hand the urban public schools which their parents believe... MORE

Education Reform

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
I have a skeptical essay on the No Child Left Behind Act. The No Child Left Behind Act reflects outmoded, paternalistic, industrial-age thinking on education. Its real name should be No Educrat Left Behind. What we need instead is bottom-up,... MORE

The Science Race

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
An alarmist New York Times article about America's relative standing in science has Cafe Hayek on edge. First, Russ Roberts wrote, The real question is not whether America is "ahead" or "behind" but whether students interested in science have good... MORE

Textbook Pricing

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Are textbooks overpriced? This newspaper story looks at the issue. Rep. David Wu (D-Ore.) in November introduced a bill requiring to General Accounting Office to investigate the high price of college textbooks and whether publishers are marketing the same books... MORE

Teacher Pay and Quality

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Virginia Postrel describes recent research in the issue of teacher pay and teacher quality. One paper is by Sean P. Corcoran and others. Postrel summarizes the results as: the chances of getting a really smart teacher have gone down substantially.... MORE

Academic Self-Selection

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Why does the academy lean left in terms of politics? In this essay, I offer a hypothesis. In general, wherever creative individuals receive incomes without having to worry about the "business aspect" of their organizations, you have freedom without responsibility...... MORE

Collective vs. Individual Benefits

Social Security
Arnold Kling
I have a new essay that argues that we over-estimate the value of collective benefits. Contrary to my training as an economist, I believe that at least some of the preference that workers have for in-kind benefits reflects flat-out irrationality.... MORE

State Universities vs. Vouchers

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
The fifty states use a variety of methods to subsidize higher education, but the most popular seems to be a subsidy for in-state students to attend specific public institutions. Bridget Terry Long compares this approach with a voucher program. up... MORE

Comment of the Week, 10-15-03

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
A lot of interesting comments on school vouchers. For example, Peter Gallagher writes, What beneficiaries want may NOT be a better education: and even if they do, they may not be very discriminating in deciding what 'better' looks like when... MORE

Adverse Results for School Vouchers

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Chang-Tai Hsieh and Miguel Urguiola find evidence that in Chile school vouchers caused schools to compete for the best students rather than compete to deliver better education. Although statistically insignificant, the point estimates suggest that, if anything, test scores experienced... MORE

Economic Arguments

Regulation and Subsidies
Arnold Kling
A few days ago, controversial radio personality Rush Limbaugh created a controversy. As a commentator on a football pre-game show, he said (1) The Philadelphia Eagles' quarterback was overrated by others in the media. (2) The reason that the quarterback... MORE

Libertarian Redistribution

Income Distribution
Arnold Kling
In an essay called Bleeding-Heart Libertarianism, I sketch a system for using a consumption tax with a negative-income-tax feature to replace government-provided health care, education, and income security. Does the bleeding-heart libertarian approach seem harsh? Actually, the Welfare State is... MORE

Comment of the Week, 2003-09-17

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
On the topic of college tuition, Andrew Martin writes, I disagree with the idea that tuition is high because the government helps pay for it. UNC, for an instate student is much lower than that $20 grand for the precise... MORE

Friedman Interview

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
John Hawkins' interview of Milton Friedman touches on many subjects. Friedman is not terribly worried about Social Security. we're a very strong country, lots of able people, lots of active entrepreneurs, and so the Social Security system will be a... MORE

College Tuition

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Why is college tuition so high? In an essay, I argue that colleges today offer more lifestyle consumption benefits. college represents a different bundle of services than it did thirty years ago, and part of where the increase in tuition... MORE

Comment of the Week, 2003-09-11

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
On school vouchers, John Thacker wrote, Vouchers, depending on implementation, should decrease the strength of the link between housing and good schooling, since schooling would be less determined by where one lived. One would then expect the price of housing... MORE

Two-Handed on Vouchers

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
What would a new economics blog be without "on the one hand...on the other"? Marginal Revolution's Tyler Cowen writes, If we are going to move forward with vouchers, I would like to know what the plan will look like, once... MORE

Academia vs. Reality

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
I probably need to wear an asbestos suit after posting this essay. A few years spent working in a corporate or government setting would benefit professors by giving them first-hand knowledge of organizational behavior and politics in practice. I think... MORE

Labor Supply and Demand

Microeconomics
Arnold Kling
About a year ago, the big story in our local suburban newspaper was the adoption of a "living wage" bill in our county. This summer, the big story was the shortage of teenage jobs here. I was tempted to write... MORE

Comment of the Week, 2003-08-06

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
On the continuing lively discussion of school vouchers, Boonton writes, The graduates of those 'horrible' [American public] schools went on to build not only an economic boom but one with heavy concentration in knowledge industries. This is the exact opposite... MORE

Comment of the Week, 2003-07-30

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
On the topic of vouchers and education, Jim Glass writes, The public school system in the past never worked any better than it does now. Arguably it was worse in the past. ...There's a lot of both selective memory and... MORE

Vouchers and Education

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
In an essay called Mandatory Libertarianism, I address the distrust of markets voiced by opponents of vouchers in education. opponents asserted that there could not possibly be enough private schools to support a voucher system. However, if education were completely... MORE

Academic Salaries

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Stephen Karlson points to this story about resentment among humanities faculty of higher salaries in professional schools. While many academics have accepted the inevitability of the differences, others believe that salaries in professional schools are out of control. Critics worry... MORE

Comment of the Week, 2003-05-28

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
On the topic of the academic job market, Damien Smith writes, Could the trouble in the humanities PhD market not be an insider-outsider problem, where the "insiders" (in this case, tenured faculty) exercise a form of market power over the... MORE

The Academic Job Market

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Two recent essays discuss the academic job market. Laura Vanderkam argues that students with good academic skills over-estimate their chances of landing a good job with a Ph.D. Like actors, however, humanities graduate students have to realize that — except... MORE

Comment of the Week, 2003-04-23

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
On the subject of productivity in the government sector Scott (no last name included) wrote, ...All of the educational proposals currently in vogue specifically involve reducing productivity. They keep looking for smaller class sizes and higher teacher pay with the... MORE

Comments of the Week, 2003-03-26

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
The teacher pay issue drew the most interesting comments. Someone who left only a first name wrote a voucher system would make the educationally well-off better off, would make the poorly-off worse off, would Balkanize society, and would create an... MORE

Teacher Pay

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Peter Temin argues that teacher pay is too low. He says that in the past, limitied opportunities for women meant that schools were supplied with a pool of high-quality teachers willing to work for low pay. Today, however, talented women... MORE

The Case for Teaching Economics

Economic Education
Arnold Kling
When asked by edge.org's John Brockman what he would do if he were science advisor to the President, Steven Pinker's reply included: Observers from our best science writers to Jay Leno are frequently appalled by the innumeracy, factual ignorance, and... MORE

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