domingo, 28 de febrero de 2010


De su próximo Presidental Address a la American Economic Association
"The best diagnosis so far comes from Goldin and Katz in their recent book The Race Between Education and Technology. Their bottom line is that “the sharp rise in inequality was largely due to an educational slowdown.” According to Goldin and Katz, for the past century technological progress has been a steady force not only increasing average living standards, but also increasing the demand for skilled workers relative to unskilled workers. Skilled workers are needed to apply and manage new technologies, while less skilled workers are more likely to become obsolete. For much of the 20th century, however, skill-biased technological change was outpaced by advances in educational attainment. In other words, while technological progress increased the demand for skilled workers, our educational system increased the supply of them even faster. As a result, skilled workers did not benefit disproportionately from economic growth. But recently things have changed. Over the last several decades, technological advance has kept up its pace, while educational advancement has slowed down. The cohort of workers born in 1950 averaged 4.67 more years of schooling than the cohort born in 1900, representing an increase of 0.93 years of schooling in each decade. By contrast, the cohort born in 1975 had only 0.74 more years of schooling than that born in 1950, an increase of only 0.30 years per decade. That is, the pace of educational advance has fallen by 68 percent. Because growth in the supply of skilled workers has slowed, their wages have grown relative to those of the unskilled. We don’t know much about the demographic characteristics of the superrich, but it is a good bet that they are on average highly educated. A good education is not a guarantee of great riches, but for many highly paid career paths it may be a prerequisite. Perhaps advanced degrees are like Willie Wonka’s famous chocolate bars. A few of them come with golden tickets that give you opportunities almost beyond imagination. Over the past several decades, as the return to education has increased, the value of those golden tickets has increased as well. But even if you aren’t lucky enough to get a golden ticket, you can still enjoy the chocolate, which by itself is well worth the price.

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