- Hardcover: 496 pages
- Publisher: Belknap Press; y First edition edition (June 30, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0674028678
- ISBN-13: 978-0674028678
- Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.4 x 1.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 20 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #406,420 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Race between Education and Technology y First edition Edition
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If you want to understand the causes of the innovation deficit, I’d recommend adding one serious book to your summer reading list: The Race Between Education and Technology. (David Leonhardt New York Times 2008-07-02)
This is the most important book on modern U.S. inequality to date. (Tyler Cowen marginalrevolution.com 2008-07-04)
[Goldin and Katz] tackle the most important U.S. economic trend, and, hence, most critical domestic issue--growing income inequality...[America] now has the most unequal income and wage distributions of any high-income nation...Goldin and Katz's careful documentation of the changes in income distribution is an important public service. This alone would make their book essential reading. Yet they also offer a powerful explanation for what has driven changes in income inequality and point to solutions for addressing it...The good news is that if Goldin and Katz are right, the cure for income inequality is one most Americans would intuitively support: improving mass education. Mr Obama's spin-doctors should start translating Goldin and Katz's book into a campaign slogan at once. (Chrystia Freeland Financial Times 2008-08-25)
One of the most important books of the year. (Nicholas D. Kristof New York Times 2008-11-13)
Masterful...As the book's title suggests, whether inequality increases or not is best thought of as an ongoing race between education and technology. Combining this simple but appealing idea with a deep knowledge of the histories of the U.S. labor market and educational institutions, Goldin and Katz conclude that whereas education was winning the race for most of the 20th century, technology caught up in the 1970s and has since prevailed. The authors' most insightful point is that the root cause of the recent growth in inequality is not faster technological progress during the past three decades but rather the surprising stagnation in the level of education of young Americans. (Thomas Lemieux Science 2008-09-26)
The Race Between Education and Technology contains many tables, a few equations and a powerfully told story about how and why the United States became the world's richest nation--namely, thanks to its schools...Beginning in the 1970s, however, the education system failed to keep pace, resulting, Ms. Goldin and Mr. Katz contend, in a sharply unequal nation...It is nice to be reminded, in a data-rich book, that greater investments in human capital once put Americans collectively on top of the world. (Stephen Kotkin New York Times 2008-10-05)
Essential reading...Goldin and Katz give a broad historical view of the role of education in economic growth in the U.S. They make the case that, after a century of leading the world in supplying the educated workers needed to serve technology, the U.S. has fallen behind in education. (Thomas F. Cooley Forbes 2008-11-26)
Goldin's and Katz's thesis is that the 20th century was the American century in large part because this country led the world in education. The last 30 years, when educational gains slowed markedly, have been years of slower growth and rising inequality. (David Leonhardt New York Times Magazine 2009-02-01)
Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz establish a clear link between the number of high school and college graduates produced in any modern society and its economic growth. (Thomas D. Elias Appeal-Democrat 2009-02-16)
[Goldin and Katz] combine an acute sense of history with a skillful use of statistics. (Andrew Hacker New York Review of Books 2009-04-30)
During the 20th century both technology and education raced forward in the US, generating massive economic expansion and rising standards of living. Throughout the century, technological changes increased the relative demand for skilled labor, while the rapid expansion of first high schools and then higher education simultaneously increased the relative supply of skilled labor. Goldin and Katz carefully examine the historical and economic forces behind this expansion in education, extracting crucial evidence from the remarkable Iowa State Census of 1915, and they argue very plausibly that the relative demand for skilled labor grew at a fairly constant rate over the century. They conclude that "education ran faster" than technology "during the first half of the century," causing a considerable drop in economic inequality, but that "technology sprinted ahead of limping education in the last 30 years," leading to the recent upsurge in inequality. The rate of return on educational investments has become, once again, very high. Why have education levels increased so sluggishly in the face of these massive rewards? The answers are not entirely clear, nor are the optimal public policies, but the authors offer much food for thought. A must read. (R. M. Whaples Choice 2008-12-01)
Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz have produced a definitive economic history of American education...[It's] tightly reasoned and easy to grasp by anyone who cares about the country's educational history. (Peter H. Lindert eh.net 2008-11-01)
The general brilliance of illumination makes this book a feast of provocation. (Trevor Butterworth Forbes.com 2010-03-24)
This book represents the best of what economics has to offer, combining a broad theoretical perspective, careful consideration of data, detailed lessons from economic history, and a close look at the present. (Alan Krueger, Princeton University)
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As I write this, this book is seriously underrated at 3.5 stars, mainly because of three negative reviews that all appear to be based on a misreading of the book, the kind that suggests that those readers started with a strong ideological bias. Yes, the historical data is crude and imperfect. But savaging the book because the authors use the best available data, and use it cautiously and thoughtfully, seems a bit excessive.
The fact remains that the US got to be the richest country in the world in large part because we educated poor and average kids and invested in human capital in a way no one else was doing. The rest of the world figured this out and set out to catch up with us. But then US high school graduation rates peaked around 1970 and have barely budged since then, and other countries have raced past us.
In a foolish attempt to boost graduation rates, most states substantially watered down their graduation requirements. By my estimate, roughly a quarter of all high school grads in the last 25 years do not in fact have what would be considered a 12th grade education in historical terms. This means that our TRUE high school completion rate has slid backwards from around 75% to around 50%. Goldin and Katz make a good case that this explosion in under-educated and under-skilled people relative to the demands of our economy and technology is a key factor in the depression of wages in the bottom half of the economy, the steep decline in social mobility, and the extraordinary increase in inequality in the US.
Students who go to college generally come from the upper half of high school grads, yet anyone who works with college admissions or counseling can tell you that the percentage of students entering college who must take remedial (i.e., high school) courses before they can begin earning college credits has exploded. As a result, it is common for students (including most of the students who can least afford it) to be faced with paying for 1-2 years of "college" that consists of repeating 11th and 12th grade without credit.
Arguments that this is somehow irrelevant and doesn't hurt the economy are just plain dumb. One reviewer goes on at length about how college doesn't help programmers and how college is a luxury good that just works as a classification and selection mechanism. That may be true for gifted kids coming from privileged families and superb secondary schools (think Bill Gates), but it is emphatically NOT true for poor kids, and it is the failure of education for the BOTTOM half to keep up with technology that is at the heart of this book.
If you care about these problems, you need to read this book.