Eric Hanushek, Ludger Woessmann, 14 August 2009

Latin Americans are relatively educated, so why has their economic growth lagged over the past four decades? This column attributes the disappointing performance to the difference between educational quantity and quality. Schooling is relevant for economic growth only insofar as it actually improves cognitive skills, and Latin American economies have lagged in terms of educational quality.

Lawrence Katz, 15 May 2009

Lawrence Katz of Harvard University talks to Romesh Vaitilingam about his book (co-authored with Claudia Goldin), The Race between Education and Technology, a history of US economic inequality and the roles of technological change and the pace of educational advance in affecting the wage structure. The interview was recorded at the American Economic Association meetings in San Francisco in January 2009.

Jane Herr, 31 March 2009

Highly educated women tend to opt out of the labour force at motherhood. This column explores why some professions (doctors) opt out less than others (MBAs). One crucial finding is that women who worked in a family-friendly environment are 10% more likely to remain working, suggesting a role for improved work-family policies.


This 3 day conference at St Catherine's College, Oxford University hosts speakers from Oxford, LSE, UCL, World Bank brings together many of the new and emerging themes in the economics of welfare. Theory tracks focus on social choice and welfare, and other related aspects of welfare economic theory and public economics. Empirical/applied tracks focus on policy areas including health, development, social policy, environment, education, poverty reduction, non-monetary measures of economic progress etc. Papers on applied econometrics or experimental work relevant to welfare economic theory and assumptions about human behaviour also welcome.

Edward Leamer, 26 September 2008

At the Global Economic Symposium in Schleswig-Holstein in September 2008, Edward Leamer of the University of California, Los Angeles spoke at a session on inequality and globalisation. Afterwards, he talked to Romesh Vaitilingam about his concept of ‘neurofacturing’ (creating value through knowledge work rather than physical labour), its rising significance in the world of the personal computer and the internet, the impact on inequality and the implications for our education systems.

Rick van der Ploeg, Reinhilde Veugelers, 27 September 2008

International rankings indicate that European countries lag in higher education, research, innovation, and growth. This column argues that enhancing competition and governance are the key aspects of potential reform. But the most important recommendation is to invest in more data and analysis to support evidence-based reform.

Moshe Hazan, 27 September 2008

The World Health Organisation recently argued that improving the longevity of the poor is not only an end in itself but also a means to achieving economic development. This column presents contrary evidence from the history of the US.

Steven Yamarik, 19 September 2008

A good deal of the direct cost of education is subsidised by governments – supposedly because education generates external returns for society. This column argues that there is little evidence of such returns. If there are reasons to subsidise education, they don't include economic externalities.

James Heckman, 25 August 2008

America has a growing skills problem. This column emphasises the importance of early environments in determining skills. It suggests that to promote skills, public policy should refocus attention to the early years of childhood and away from its current emphasis on the later years.

Yves Zenou, 15 August 2008

Yves Zenou talks to Romesh Vaitilingam about his research on the sources of differences in school performance between students of different races, which uses data on friendship groups among American teenagers. He finds that having a higher percentage of same-race friends has a positive effect on white teenagers’ test scores but a negative effect on black teenagers’ test scores.

Paul Glewwe, Michael Kremer, Sylvie Moulin, 20 August 2008

Many students may be left behind in societies with curricula that cater to the elite.

Arvind Subramanian, 06 August 2008

Manmohan Singh has political capital and needs a legacy. This column suggests that the prime minister focus his energies on reforming higher education – a badly lagging sector that needs deregulation, liberalisation, and globalisation.

Karin Monstad, Carol Propper, Kjell Salvanes, 06 May 2008

Low fertility has become an issue of public concern as low population growth and higher dependency ratios due to aging populations threaten to strangle economic growth. The authors of CEPR DP6816 use an educational reform in Norway as an instrument to establish whether the relationship between female education and fertility decisions is causal.

James Heckman, Paul LaFontaine, 13 February 2008

Official statistics for US high school graduation rates mask a growing educational divide. This column presents research showing that a record number of Americans are going to university – while an increasing number are dropping out of high school. This poses major social challenges for the United States.

Stephen Machin, Sandra McNally, Olmo Silva, 14 December 2007

Do computers in schools help? Economists have long been sceptical, but new research finds that technology does have a positive effect on pupils’ performance.

Pedro Carneiro, Costas Meghir, Matthias Parey, 08 October 2007

In the last 50 years, there has been a striking increase in inequality in children’s home environments across families where mothers have different levels of education. Given that the tendency is rooted in the experience of each family, it is difficult for the welfare system to import change and direct interventions require the invasion of family autonomy and privacy. The authors of CEPR DP6505 assess an alternative potential policy, which targets future parents while still in their youth by affecting their education before they start forming a family.

Jan van Ours, Jenny Williams, 18 September 2007

Parents are right to worry about their children's early use of cannabis, at least with respect to educational attainment. Early initiation into cannabis reduces educational attainment considerably.

Julian Le Grand, 24 August 2007

Properly designed public services whose delivery includes elements of choice and competition deliver higher quality and more efficient services, and are both more equitable and more responsive

Ritva Reinikka, Jakob Svensson, 02 July 2007

The Millennium Development Goals call for universal primary school enrolment but still the available literature on schooling provides little guidance on what governments in developing countries should prioritize to raise educational attainment. Innovations in governance of social services may yield the highest return since social services delivery in developing countries is often plagued by inefficiencies and corruption. The authors of DP6363 exploit an unusual policy experiment to answer what may be the most effective way to increase primary school enrolment and student learning and conclude that publicity might be a way to solve the problem of corruption and diversion of funds in the provision of local services.

Daniel Gros, 26 January 2006

Written January 2006: What is the key to excellence of a nation’s education system? New data suggest that governmental efficiency is critical. This implies that one cannot just copy educational programmes from one country to another. Programmes that work in highly efficient countries might fail in nations with less efficient public administrations.