Economic Growth vs Education

Latin America, Economic Growth and Education

"Conclusion
The dismal level of cognitive skills reached by Latin American countries can account for their poor growth performance since 1960. Student achievement test performance explains inter- and intra-regional growth differences. If countries in Latin America (and, by implication, Sub-Saharan Africa) want to improve their growth performance in the future, they need a “Millennium Learning Goal” (Filmer, Hasan, and Pritchett 2006), rather than mere quantitative targets of educational attainment. It is not simply going to school but only actual learning that counts for economic growth."

The idea that national economic growth is primarily limited by education, whether its quantity or its quality, is absurd.

While I have no knowledge of Latin America, the first place that I would look is for structural and cultural barriers to the formation of new private businesses.

The real question, to my mind, is which of the following economic changes would lead to a better economy?

1. Replace 25% of the plumbers with academic PhD level economists.

or

2. Replace 25% of the academic PhD level economists with plumbers.

Regards, Don

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Are you sure?

While I have no knowledge of Latin America, the first place that I would look is for structural and cultural barriers to the formation of new private businesses.

Most of the countries in Latin America are at least nominally democracies. If a democracy can attain widespread and large scale increases in the cognitive abilities of the voters, it's not wrong to assume that economic growth will follow. What you've done is identified that the causation graph can be short-circuited - rather than educate the people, enable them to elect leaders who can recognize and remove the barriers to their success, why not just eliminate them directly?

The answer is also, that they are a democracy. A would-be reformer would be up against entrenched interests who loot the state for personal gain, and the misinformation and vote-getting machines that they have set up. Given that the stated original problem is that vast regions of Latin America have failed to improve the basic cognitive skills of the governed, it's hard to see how said would-be reformer could make and keep lasting change.

So by short-circuiting the electoral system, you haven't removed the powerful interest groups who loot the state. Good luck reforming while they are intact.

The real question, to my mind, is which of the following economic changes would lead to a better economy?

If you can replace 25% of an unskilled or semi-skilled segment of the electorate with any PhD level intellect and education, you should. They will help vote up a better crop of leaders, and their intellectual gifts should allow them to find other jobs now that the market of their primary education is glutted. I believe America would benefit greatly from this deal, say nothing of Latin America and/or Africa. To put it another way, Plumbers we can get...

Tim, Thanks for your

Tim,

Thanks for your response.

If a democracy can attain widespread and large scale increases in the cognitive abilities of the voters, it's not wrong to assume that economic growth will follow.

There's nothing wrong with making any assumption, but this one seems highly unlikely in the if premise, and unproven in the conclusion. I would have have thought that cognitive ability is primarily inherent, and not greatly subject to formal education.

If you can replace 25% of an unskilled or semi-skilled segment of the electorate with any PhD level intellect and education, you should. They will help vote up a better crop of leaders,...

If I believed this, I would be in favor of limiting voting rights to the faculty of the Ivy League schools. (shudder)

I can't see any case that can be made for believing that a marginal academic PhD economist is more valuable to the economy and society than a marginal plumber. (marginal in the economic sense, not a quality judgment). While the economist will likely be paid far more, that is one of the consequences of massive tax subsidies to higher education. This is a waste of the cognitive abilities of the economist, who could otherwise be contributing to the real economy.

Regards, Don

What you want is competence

What you want is competence and good judgment. Education level has nothing to do with real world competence, or judgment. Anyone who confuses educational credentials with competence likewise exhibits poor judgment.

Public schools are bad, and universities value speech codes and political correctness more than ideological diversity. Students are not prepared for life's challenges so much as brain washed into the correct points of view.

Pity the poor society that confuses such valueless credentials with true competence. But then, you're soaking in it.

Education level has nothing

Education level has nothing to do with real world competence, or judgment.

Knowledge affects judgment.

Education level has nothing

Education level has nothing to do with real world competence, or judgment. Anyone who confuses educational credentials with competence likewise exhibits poor judgment.

Ah so they have nothing to do with each other because they're not exactly the same?

Education and IQ

There are a couple of clarifications required here. The assumption seems to be that the cognitive skills of latin america can be improved by education. The HBD view is that large portions of the latin american population are made up of mestizo indians with low IQs. The root cause of the lack of educational attainment in those societies derives from this fact. Economic success and educational attainment are predicted by IQ more than any other factor although bureaucratic restrictions on business activity undoubtedly play a role too.

If Education is stable in the

If Education is stable in the country then the economy should be rising. Everyone will answer education but the people who make the decisions might think otherwise.