Greg Mankiw's Blog: Yes, education, but what kind?

Greg Mankiw’s Blog: Yes, education, but what kind?:

Reviewing specific programs, Carneiro and Heckman find that preschool education is highly effective, although with more impact on noncognitive than cognitive abilities. Schools are much less productive, and returns are low to increased investments in K-12 education in the form of higher salaries, smaller classes, and so forth. They suggest that structural changes that increase school choice and competition should have higher returns, but are careful to note that returns to increased investment in schools are limited by what families contribute to the production process. They also conclude that added investments in job training and higher education have low rates of return, particularly for lower ability adolescents and adults.

Brooks is right to focus our attention on education, but our aspirations should be modest. Even the best designed human capital policies are unlikely to reverse the rise in inequality observed over the past several decades.


the question here, in my mind, is really about the current system. returns are low because the architecture of learning in the u.s. cannot utilize investments. it is not that making the institutions ‘capitalistic’ will change things either. it is the innate practices of education, the classroom, the sitting in rows, the rote knowledge, it is the way that we make students think, their future mode of thought, that is the real problem. it centers on the wrong sort of structures, mainly it is still factory-based and submission based instead of future-oriented and equality-based. if you invest in an old factory, the money generally is wasted on maintenance, making new technologies fit, etc. huge transition costs and because everyone that worked there is still working there, you haven’t changed the habitus, and thus are impinged significantly by traditions, ideations, and practices that limit change. if you build a new factory, build in new practices, you can sometimes save the transition costs and have huge gains.

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