Wednesday, April 25, 2007
If Becker were right on the economics of higher education, one would expect spending on colleges by governments to positively impact growth rates. The work I am doing, now in conjunction with Tony Caporale and Whiz Kid Jonathan Leirer, convinces me that spending on higher ed by state governments has, at the margin, no positive growth effects whatsoever, and probably even negative ones. As to the other dimensions, do college graduates smoke less (and thus live longer) than non-college graduates because of what they learned in college, or because they are smarter and more disciplined? ...Links to Becker and Posner added. I'm hoping Vedder posts this paper of his soon.
If James Bryant Conant, former Harvard president, had gotten his way, we would today have perhaps five or at the very most 10 percent of the adult age population with college degrees. Would we be poorer, less healthy, etc.? Maybe, but to me the evidence is very far from clear. As Posner notes, many studies on these issues were based on K-12 results, and the marginal benefits of subsequent education may be quite different than that associated with basic literacy and numeric skills.
Sorry to be shorter today, but a day from hell it was, and now the final papers for senior seminar come tomorrow. Rest is required, though one more blog may come from me tonight if I can extract it from the muse.