Phi Beta Cons

David Brooks Pushes the ‘Undereducation’ Theory

In his New York Times column today, David Brooks says nice things about the argument of Professors Katz and Goldin that the reason why American economic development has slowed is that we are underachieving on education. That is, not enough kids making it into and through college.

I criticized that view here and am still utterly unpersuaded that there is a causal link between formal educational attainment and economic growth. The United States had very rapid economic growth throughout much of the 19th century prior to the big increase in formal education. And there are much better explanations for our relatively poor growth record since 1970 than educational underachievement, such as economic arteriosclerosis due to burgeoning regulation and increasing taxation.

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.


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