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Tyler Waldman

This paper provided a great overview of the link between education, private benefits, and societal benefits. Its conclusions were eerily similar to the land grant institution paper we read earlier in the semester. That paper found that investments in agriculture-focused colleges have a 32:1 return on investment, while this one finds a general 10.5:1 rate of return on investments in education. They both beg one to ask why these avenues are not being funded more in light of this significant evidence of their impressive returns to any funding. This paper also backs up Esther Duflo’s findings that investments in women and girls may be the most effective way to stimulate economic development. It’s interesting to see how this paper, while covering a new topic for our class, continues to reinforce the same messages that previous papers have touched on earlier in the semester.

When looking at the annex, I noticed a huge discrepancy in the most recent year of observed data for the countries in annex 1. This paper was written in 2018 and the most recent data for some countries, like Sierra Leone, is as far in the past as 1971. Many others have the most recent data collection in the 1980s. This seems like a major flaw in our ability to study important issues in economics, especially if there is a correlation between the economic level of a country and the availability of data for it. As Ted Schultz would say, “if we knew the economics of being poor, we would know much of the economics that really matters.” How can we know the economics of being poor if we don’t have sufficient data to study less developed countries? It is possible that this particular data set is more restrictive than others or the authors are purposefully using older data to measure long-term effects; both explanations would counter my point. However, data availability is certainly an issue to consider, and looking at the data put forth in the annex made me consider this issue.

Sherman Golden

The most interesting part of this paper was this sort of global phenomenon where girls are seeing higher returns to education than their male counterparts. My knee jerk reaction was to think that this was not only good, but a great thing for the future of our society. However, the more I thought about it, the more concerned I began to be. I understand the importance of educating women, and I understand that it is easier to see gains to education when girls are prioritized, but it feels like many of the issues in education have not been solved, rather shifted from girls to boys. I think that a potential problem for coming generations is an increasingly large number of men who are disaffected with schooling and white collar jobs, which could lead to a skills deficit or high unemployment. Suicide rates among men, especially rural young men who did not attend college are incredibly high. Its almost as if the problem hasn't been solved at all, its just someone else's problem now.

vic ndhlovu

Although I have gone over this topic in other classes, this paper was still a very interesting read and it did a good job of tying private and social benefits as well as monetary and non-monetary rewards of education. In other economics classes we have talked the immeasurable social(and private) benefits of education and how such studies often "under report" the benefits associated with schooling. It is interesting that the demand for skills seems to increase at a faster rate than the supply (figure 1) even though the average person gains more education as the years go by. Even though figure 4 is specific to the country of Argentina, I was very surprised to see that the returns to schooling and the state of the economy are almost unrelated. Even in times of downturn, the rate of return to schooling continues to rise. Perhaps this shows shows that the rewards of schooling are way more than just wages.

Table 3 shows drastic variance in the rate of return to schooling against mean years of schooling for different regions of the world. This made me think that I'd have loved to see the paper mention something about the effect of education quality. That said, the lack of data availability will always be an issue in such a study

Natalie McCaffery

I agree that the externalities associated with the conditions of populations has a major emphasis on the return on investment in human capital. The Mincerian earnings function makes unrealistic assumptions, but it is STILL proving the point that education leads to higher incomes and greater economic development. Imagine if the costs of being a teen mom were brought into the equation? Both social and economic costs are completely neglected, but the strength of the argument for education is still enough to be shocking. The race between education and technology is also interesting because it shows how the feedback or product of an education is performing for a population (in the form of development through technology). There are additional factors of growth that could be included in that same comparison, the first I’d add would be food/water waste. With greater levels of education and more technology, we should see the waste of human resources decrease, as individuals learn more sustainable methods of management. This metric would also be correlated to the living conditions of a population, which is vital in determining the available effort to put into an education.

Patrick Rooney

I found this article extremely interesting and like Tyler, I saw many similarities to the Land Grant Article we read previously. One thing that stood out to me was Figure 2 which depicted the Return to Schooling by Years of Schooling. The figure illustrates that the highest rate of return appears with the least amount of schooling. The more someone is educated, the lower the rate of return on investment becomes. Personally, I thought the return to schooling by years of schooling would be a bell curve. I thought this because it seems that a year or two of schooling would not change the attitudes of many people, and that after a certain number of years of schooling there is diminishing marginal return. Yet, the data from Figure 2 proves otherwise which shows that any amount of early education is immensely impactful in economic development.
Another point which I found important to touch upon was that returns of schooling were higher in the private sector of the economy than in the public sector of the economy. This does make sense, as the private sector prioritizes efficiency and productivity which can comes from educated individuals. Also, it was no surprise that the returns to female education exceed those of men. Woman today continue to be discriminated and marginalized from society and the economy, so increasing female education is extremely valuable. I found this article well-structured, and I appreciate how it was driven by quantitative analysis. I found the analysis of examining different income groups with the social returns of education very insightful. I thought it was an important distinction that the paper made with how social returns are almost always lower than private because it is extremely difficult to include on the social benefits of education.

Ian Kinney

To second the point others have already made, I thought this article tied in nicely to some of the other reading we have had this semester. From the high return to education, to the importance of targeting programs to reach women and girls, I felt like this reading really hammered home the importance of the topics we’ve been discussing.

What I found most interesting was that returns to education were highest where education is most lacking. Primary education sees a larger return than secondary, girls see a greater return than boys, and countries with low incomes see a greater return than richer countries. This makes sense to me, and I think it also is a cause for optimism: the education of those who are most excluded from educational opportunities, all else equal, has the highest rate of return. This seems to be an example of equity and efficiency objectives aligning.

El Ellenz

I think it is very telling to see how large the returns that the literature has been able to calculate are, and more still to see the frank acknowledgement that these returns are underestimations that don't account for the full social value due to the difficulty (perhaps impossibility?) of quantifiably measuring the full social value provided by education - it really shows that even though or methods of economic accounting understate the importance of education, they still find such a significant role. I'll join literally everyone else in stating that this paper reminded me a lot of the land grant paper, and was overall very straightforward to understand. One thing I was confused about, however, was the 'race' between technology and higher education displayed in Figure 5. Could we clarify what this means in class?

Josh Fingerhut

I believe that any development plan that does not include education is a bad plan. We have already shown through modeling in class how education can increase productivity and provide social benefits. Although it is obvious that there are positive returns to education, I appreciated the attempt to try to quantify the returns in this article. As some of the blog points above me have pointed out, it is highly unlikely that these estimates could truly capture the full, social returns to education. There are likely unquantifiable benefits that are being left out, making these estimates more of a lower bound in my eyes.

Still, the takeaway is undeniable. The private return to education was estimated at 9%. Taken by itself, this is way higher than typical GDP growth. Now add in all of the additional social benefits and investing in education is a no brainer. One thing that I will add is that the marginal returns are probably somewhat diminishing. Obtaining basic literacy likely has massive returns whereas learning Shakespeare is probably not quite as profitable. Therefore, the greatest focus should be on investing in bringing basic education to those that have none. This was supported by data in the paper including higher returns to primary education and higher returns in lower income countries.

Trip Wright

The private and public returns to education are extremely important aspects of promoting economic development in low-income countries. In order for these returns to be fully realized, it is important that "education" is allocated sufficiently and efficiently in a country. Public institutional regulation of education is necessary for this to occur because private market forces would "fail" to allocate enough of the good relative to its social benefit—a market failure—to internalize the, in this case, positive externalities. I think it's important to consider the marginal benefit/utility of education. I enjoyed looking at Figure 2 in the paper as it reminded me of a similar graphic in a paper I had to read for POV-101, written by economist James Heckman, about skill investment and returns to human capital specifically for children. Figure 2 shows decreasing private returns as years of schooling increase. I believe this is attributed to the opportunity cost of funds used for education as an investment...at least as a private investment because this is what the Mincerian return measured. I'm curious to view Figure 2 when stratified by countries' GDP and see if any positive trends are observed compared to the aggregate decrease.

Further, I appreciated the graphic that showed a consistent increase in returns on education in Argentina despite enormous economic swings from 1980 to 2005. If anything, it suggests that investments in education are nonetheless a safe bet. Again, the only returns being analyzed in Argentina are private returns, however, the social benefits of education are very large and important for the growth of human capital (or perhaps population quality).

Chadrack Bantange

Nelson Mandela, one of the most essential freedom fighters to ever exist once said that "education is the most powerful weapon to change the world". Reading this article reminded me of his quote and once again came to supplement my knowledge on the weight of education. As the article mentioned, the returns on education tend to be positive, thus stressing the importance of education in one's income and the development of the economy as a whole.

Just as I expected, education returns for girls and those of low incomes countries are higher than their counterparts. This fact brought me back to the article we read on investing more in women's and girls' education to alleviate poverty and achieve economic growth. Not only that, it also turns out that low income countries should invest more in education as it is evidenced that this type of investment is always beneficial. The only issue I have with investing in education is that it takes a lot of time to see the benefits of education to reflect in a society. This is not to imply we should not invest in education, but rather keep in mind that education is a long term investment and we should wait a little while to see its effects.

On a side note, I was a little bit lost when the author reported the regression's results. Since education has a positive return I expected a positive sign on the year coefficient, but the coefficient was rather negative. I hope we can talk about this in class.

Sarah Wittpenn

I really enjoyed reading this article for the same reasons that other people have talked about in their posts. Specifically, I thought it tied in really well to our discussions about land grant institutions and the benefits of investment in education. I think the whole discussion about investments and estimated benefits is interesting because as I've seen in my internships and about through business classes it takes a lot for people to be convinced to invest and spend more money when they perceive the current situation to be successful. Likewise, people do not always see through societies to fully understand the deep rooted inequalities and development problems. They miss opportunities to develop and the fact that the costs of education are far surpassed by the benefits of someone receiving an education.Hence, studies and articles like these are critical in showcasing the importance of investing in education and specifically the positive returns for investing in women. I thought it was interesting to think about returns differently for each sector where the private sector has smaller returns to schooling than the public sector of the economy. While I think this article makes important arguments about spending on human capital, I think that the focus needs to be on overall investment in education and not so spearheaded towards women because as Sherman said, there should be equal investment and not switch to investing more in women and then neglecting men.

Chris Ruiz

It is known, at least among the students in this class, that education is a crucial factor in promoting development. What should also be understood, and this article touches upon this, is that there are a lot of social benefits to investing in education. A person who is sick benefits from the highly educated doctor. A person whose marriage failed needs a highly educated divorce lawyer. And yet, people lose their minds over the idea of student loan forgiveness because "they weren't the ones who signed up for something they couldn't afford". The cost of higher education in the US is outrageous, and it is astronomically more expensive than it is in peer countries. Students in the UK can go to world class institutions and get a degree for less than 30,000 GBP. I can't even get a semester's worth of education for that price. The paper relates rising costs of education with education being outpaced by technological growth. Sure, maybe the education is worth its sticker price, but because society as a whole benefits from the college educated population in a myriad of ways, I think education should be subsidized by the government much more than it is. That would mean higher taxes. A more affordable college education could further lower the barriers to entry for people of lesser means. The more people with college degrees, the better off a society is. The advocates for trade school can go on and on about the uselessness of a college degree. Trades are important to society too, but the world can only handle so many plumbers. Who is going to design and create the vehicles that allow the plumbers to travel from job to job? My guess would be engineers, and I'd double down to say that Ford probably isn't hiring a self-taught engineer. Education is an amazing tool, and the more education people can get their hands on, the better, because that education will benefit people in a lot of ways, ways that they don't even seem to notice. Education is a public good.

Renan Silva

This research remarkably touches on the importance of investments on education for a nation’s economic development. The data that stuck with me the most was that “in the United States the long-term 1966 to 2015 average return on stocks and bonds is 2.4 percent versus a 10.5 percent overall private return to investment in education”. The return on education being 4 times the average return on stocks and bonds shows how education should be more prioritized for a country seeking economic development.

The screening hypothesis was also an interesting concept to learn. Even though the paper states that this hypothesis found no support, it conceptually makes sense to me. An interview process is not apt to fully grasp a candidate’s level of productivity. A set of behavioral questions combined with technical cases may be able to get a sense of how productive a candidate may be, but it is the daily work that will show a worker’s true productive levels. Therefore, I do think that the screening hypothesis holds some truth when stating that employers will select workers with higher qualifications because the credential effects make them seem to have a higher capacity to learn.

The race between education and technology is a topic from this research I am confused on and would like to discuss further in class tomorrow. The paper states that technology is suggested to be “winning the race”. Does it mean that the overall level of education is not being able to catch up to the increasingly technology growth? And how does the price and supply of education relate to its race with technology?

Kit Lombard

The findings of this article were interesting but some of them were confusing and I wish the author expanded on them for clarification. First, the social rate of returns for education is higher in high-development countries in comparison to low-development countries. My confusion may be from a misunderstanding, but I was expecting the opposite, in which the returns are higher in low-income countries. Since the basis of the country is behind in qualities that are evident in high-income nations, such as higher productivity, I imagined any form of education to yield higher returns in low-income countries. Education overall would promote innovation in the country, leading to economic development. Another example of a limitation in the article is how the author states that higher costs of education lead to lower returns, but this example seems more aligned with the situation in the US. Therefore, this explanation does not capture the depth of the limitations of the returns. Lastly, for clarification, is the author stating technology in the workplace results in a high return or technology in educational settings? The article could have gone more in-depth into the models evident and the quality of schools is included. I do not think it is fair to assume a low-income school automatically alludes to a poor quality of education because some countries have stronger STEM or other fields of study in primary and secondary education than the US. Tying back to my technology question, I was confused if the presence of utilizing technology in education would lead to greater returns (but this also increases the costs), or if the author is saying the emphasis should be more on the technology of the country. However, if we just focus on technology, this brings up the question of the proportion of the population who have access to technology and benefit from it.

Jack Lewis

I found this paper to be a nice read and I really appreciated the variety of graphs and data collected and presented in the article. For example we see returns to education for a number of countries, returns to schooling based on public vs private sector, and even the structure of private and social returns. What really stuck out to me was the noticeable slope of rate of return based on years of schooling for the U.S. and other lower income countries. The U.S. reported a negative slope for returns while lower income countries especially in Latin America demonstrated positive slope of returns. I agree with Ian in the way he points out that returns based on schooling is most prevalent in areas where education is most lacking. Additionally, this isn't necessarily a sign that these countries are doomed, but that it is possible when the educational system is improved, positive results may be seen.

Ngoc Le

This was a very enjoyable reading for me. I really like the point that there should be a clear distinction between "the human capital (productivity) and screening hypotheses about returns to education". It is definitely a circular relationship, as companies higher people with higher education degrees, their productivity are proof for companies to keep hiring them.
Another interesting point was how "education advancements were insufficient to countervail demand due to technological progress". "As the supply of labor increases, so does the demand for higher skills", so the returns are not growing as much as the enrollment in education. I think one solution would be to integrate technological knowledge earlier into education, so that students are exposed to them at an earlier age, which could potentially reduce the time it would take for them to acquire the skills they need that companies demand.

Eric Bazile

Throughout this week, we have discussed the importance of investments in human capital in our class, and in previous weeks, we have discussed the importance of education. This paper here does a great job of tying it all together.

I am very familiar with the importance of education from my previous poverty classes. From what I can remember, we read a paper very similar to this which stresses the importance of investments in education. The previous paper emphasized that preschool-aged children have the highest ROI compared to investments later down the lifespan of a human and that children that attend preschool are given an advantage over most children. However, preschool isn't very accessible to low-income families, so the paper stressed the importance of government-subsidized preschool.

This summer, I worked with a chamber of commerce and I worked on an outreach project which attempted to get students with no plans of college into job training programs with the local community college. And as I worked with this college, it was evident that their selling point stemmed from the cost-benefit analysis of attending. For example, the truck driver certification program lasted a little less than a year and cost maybe a few thousand. However, the director always emphasized that not only can truck drivers make upwards of six figures, but employers are waiting for one to graduate to get them started. The return on investment here is unusually large for such a late investment in the sequence of education, nevertheless, it is still a great program, especially for lower-income students with no college plans.

Andrew Arnold

This article mostly felt to me like the empirical evidence for things that just make sense. For instance, when education is lacking you invest in more education. When women are under-enrolled, you enroll more women. These things seem to me to be so simple, but for a number of reasons seem to be hard in the real world. This is one of the times where I start to get a little frustrated with Economics and more so the application of Economics in the real world. The models and data can point to such clear answers, but somehow these can still be debated and incomplete. I'm not sure what the solution to this is, but maybe more education is the start.

Will Fearey

I found this paper to be very similar to the land grant article that we read, in that investments in education provide society with larger benefits than nearly any other form of investment. I found it particularly interesting that this paper compared returns on educational investment to that of stocks and bonds, which I normally would never have put together in the same discussion. It really makes you think about how efficient the allocation of the world’s money is, especially when you add to the conversation the higher returns on women’s education and the other positive externalities that are not accounted for. This class overall has taught me a very important lesson in that education is a primary means to any developing country’s (and developed country’s) economic prosperity as well as the wellbeing for women. Going into the future, I am curious as to what the research will show in regards to countries’ adaptations to technology in their educational practices (thinking about the potential role that virtual reality may play for children who live far from their school house in particular).

Joe Jackson

I thought that the World Bank article on the returns to investment in education was not particularly surprising based on what we have discussed thus far in the class. One thing that I want to examine a little bit more closely is the first point made in the discussion section of the paper, which notes that “spending on human capital is a good investment.” More interestingly, the article points out that the private rate of return on investment into education is higher than that of stocks or bonds. My question, then, is why do we not see greater investments into education by the private sector and should there be more encouragement by the public sector for the private sector to make these investments? It surprised me that the private return on investment into education is over 10% and even more so surprised that there are not more ways for the private sector to invest into education somehow. My thinking for the reasoning for this difference is that investments into stock or bonds are more likely to provide a direct benefit to the private entity, while investments into education may be more beneficial for society at large. If that is the case, is it then a failure of the market to not recognize the individual private benefit despite the gains being diffused throughout society?

Emily Ingram

Echoing most of the other sentiments of this thread, I think this paper was an excellent tie-in to what we've been discussing about investment in human capital. The evidence of this paper clearly shows that investment in education leads to positive returns (especially for women) Even looking at social returns, the article pointed out that when accounting for externalities, the return to investment in low-income countries was higher than returns based on earnings. Having seen and discussed the positive spillover effects of these investments in class, it's somewhat perplexing as to why the argument for more investment in education is consistently undermined.

Gabe Miller

This study presented what I already suspected and what this class has affirmed: education is a huge benefit. I found it incredibly interesting that the return on schooling by year was slightly decreasing- to me, this seems to indicate that primary school is the most important. I also found it incredibly interesting that the return is higher for females than it is for males. As the authors mentioned, this reinforces the goal of women's education for development. I couldn't help but think that this may also be a result of already existing education gaps between men and women- the return on education is more noticeable for a population of people who have been absolutely deprived of education.

Cal Christianson

This article made me think of Sen’s development is freedom. We know that education is essential for development. We have read multiple articles on this topic and discussed it numerous times. We have also discussed how freedom is both a metric and a cause of development. This paper made me think about the link between development and freedom. Fredrick Douglas once said that “education means emancipation”. Education might be the common link between economic development and freedom. We know that improvements in human capital make a labor force more productive. Education and literacy also allow new ideas to be formed and spread. It also allows people to live the lives they want to live. This Senian idea of life can only be reasonably achieved through education. I thought it was interesting that the paper emphasized the higher returns for educating girls. I am curious whether this was caused by enabling an expansion of the labor force through girls being educated or whether a more educated society would abandon preconceived notions of gender and labor. I would love the opportunity to discuss this further in class.

Ryan Messick

I think the article had an interesting point of ‘where productivity matters, education is recognized’. The article shows that returns for education decrease over time, which makes sense considering that the baseline for many occupational standards is not the highest education. However, like we discussed in the land grant article, I think that pushing for availability of education of all groups will benefit every group and I would be interested to see if it may actually make the returns for those further education higher. We would be increasing returns for everyone by doing so, and assuming the initial statement is true, the returns of higher education should grow as well as there is a more distinct difference of general education versus furthered experience.

Will Kistler

One of my favorite ideas discussed in this paper is the idea that as your education increases so should your wage–not because of your productivity, but because of your likelihood to be more productive. I think that this idea is really fascinating and speaks volumes to the value of being a well-rounded individual and the benefits of a liberal arts education. What is much more important than your actual productivity is your capability to be productive. I'm seeing this idea play out in my life right now as I'm getting internship opportunities, not because of my current technical skills(as I have little to none), but because of my demonstration to have the capacity to be productive(Being admitted into a school like W&L–and not flunking out).

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