The Long Run Importance of School Quality
31 Pages Posted: 20 Jul 2002 Last revised: 25 Jul 2002
Date Written: July 2002
The role of schooling and school quality in the economy has become very confused, in part because of attempts to argue different positions on educational policy. Research demonstrates that school quality has a strong impact on individual earnings, on the distribution of income, and on overall economic growth. In contrast to these long run factors, today's school quality has little to do with current business cycles or unemployment rates. This paper emphasizes the importance of school quality -- measured by math and science test scores -- on economic growth. While U.S. growth has been strong over the 20th century, it has not been the result of high quality schooling relative to that in other countries. Instead other factors such as open labor markets and high quality colleges and universities appear to have masked the mediocre performance by U.S. students.
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