The Economic Case for Investing in Children

There’s a new report out entitled The Competition that Really Matters from The Center for the Next Generation and the Center for American Progress.  The report focuses on an exceptionally important topic:  The economic case for investing in children. The fact is that in today’s data-driven economy, the ability to work with data and information technology is at the heart of global competitiveness.  These abilities require increased investment in education, starting with pre-K, moving up to K-12 and higher education.  The danger is that the U.S. will lose its edge in precisely the industries that are propelling growth.

The poll that was released at the same time asks the always interesting question: Who is in favor of raising taxes and cutting spending,  if the funds were dedicated to education at different levels?  There’s a very dramatic split by political affiliation.  I’ve reproduced a representative table below.

Now, there’s a lot of different ways to ask this question. But the poll appears to say that Democrats favor investment in education at a much higher rate than independents and Republicans. If that’s really true, it’s very sad.

One added tidbit: A wonderful  infographic on helping our kids compete globally. Could be a great ceiling-to-floor wall poster.


  1. mike shupp says:

    I don’t know about ALL economists, but conservative & libertarian economists have been dumping on the notion that college is basically a good thing for the past half dozen years or so — the general notion is that with a handful of exceptions (STEM degrees, perhaps) a college degree is an advertisement for one’s social status, rather than a valid indicator of knowledge that might be of use to employers.

    YOU may be proud of your ability to distinguish between 15th and 16th Century European art, but it sickens conservatives, You get the idea?

    Lately the boys at Econlog have been pointing out the wastefulness of high school and college language courses. Jesus Christ spoke in English, after all, and so did every other important world figure, and so do modern French and Germans and Brits, so there’s no real need for good ‘Mericans to learn to speak anything else. (They’re on your Blogroll, you might take a gander from time to time.)

    Uhh… is there a name for societies where 5% of the populace has a monopoly on both money and education? How should we honor the economists working so diligently to bring us to this nirvana?

  2. Mark Michael says:

    Did you evaluate the role that teachers unions play in K-12 public school education? Have you read any of the papers that Joel Klein, the former Chancellor of the NY City public schools, has written blasting the refusal of those notorious teachers unions to agree to reasonable reforms in education? Klein was so frustrated – angry – at the teachers unions and self-centeredness about work rules, benefits, etc. that he was saying, in effect, “I’ve had it with you! A pox on your house forever!” He strongly embraced any and all forms of school choice – charter schools, vouchers to attend private schools, etc.

    Walter Russell Mead on his “American Interest” blog, posts regularly about the unmitigated failure of the “blue state social model”, and “Progressives” need to get your collective head out of your behinds and face reality! Mead admitted he voted for Obama in 2008 and is sympathetic to Progressive thoughts.

  3. Mike, previous comment stuck in link spamtrap, please extricate.

  4. What if you favor education but you don’t favor the government indoctrination centers we call public schools? What if you favor lower taxes lower spending or even better, no taxes and no spending by the government? Do people really learn valuable skills in public schools? Do they learn the skills you mention in this post?

    Public schools are nearly useless at providing skills people need and are harmful in filling their heads with propaganda that big government can solve problems caused by capitalism. This poll does not capture people who favor liberty over force. It assumes that education can only come from the government. If you favor increased government, you favor increase education. If you favor less government, you favor less education. This is a false dichotomy that surrounds us. You either favor something the government does or you are against the stated goal of the program. There is rarely any allowance for a non government solution to problems in people’s thinking. You must be in favor of issuing food stamps or you are in favor of letting people starve.

  5. You can’t understand innovation of growth without knowing Alex Gheg’s consumer theory. Quantity, quality, variety and convenience in one equation. A true scale for utility that measures hidden thoughts. You need to see this video

  6. Dr Mandel,

    You interpret this poll as asking who is willing to invest more in education. However, the question seems merely to ask who is willing to increase the budget of the public school / college system.

    This is a very different kettle of fish, as many people believe that there are gross systemic problems with the US eduscation system that cannot be solved by money alone.

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