One of the arguments we have often heard in favor of making it a national priority to get more Americans through college is that we’re “falling behind” other countries, especially China. It was always a silly argument. Prosperity does not depend on outracing other countries in pushing people through college, especially if they are often just going through the motions of education.
Today’s Wall Street Journal has an article that destroys the illusion that the Chinese are gaining because of their great “investment” in higher education. There are large numbers of college-educated young Chinese who can’t find work calling for their education. Same thing here, of course, although the Chinese may actually have learned a lot in college whereas many Americans just coast.
Higher-ed cheerleaders seem to believe that a country can pull itself up by its bootstraps simply by increasing the educational attainment level of the people. (That is, more time in classrooms.) That can’t work any better than any other government plan for speeding up economic growth.