Bowen - C R O S S I N G T H E F I N I S H L I N E C O M P L...

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Unformatted text preview: C R O S S I N G T H E F I N I S H L I N E C O M P L E T IN G C O L L E G E A T A M E R IC A ’S P U B L IC U N IV E R S IT IE S William G. Bowen, Matthew M. Chingos, and Michael S. McPherson P R IN C E T O N U N IV E R S IT Y P R E S S PR IN C E T O N A N D O X FO R D C H A P T E R 1 Educational Attainment: Overall Trends, Disparities, and the Public Universities We Study Trr~ SUBJeCt OF this book--educational attainment in the United States--could hardly be more timely. Academics, framers of public policy, and journalists are united in bemoaning the failure of the United States in re- cent years to continue building the human capital it needs to satisfy eco- nomic, social, and political needs. In their book Tke Race Between Educa- tion and Technology, Claudia Goldin and Lmw’ence Katz applaud America’s astonishingly steady and substantial educational progress dawing the first .three quarters of the 20th cen tuty--and then are just as emphatic in call- ing attention to the dramatic falling off in the rate of increase in educa- tional attainment since the nrid-!970s. ~ The chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, Ben S. Bernanke, in remarks delivered at Harvard on Class Day 2008, told the assembled graduates that "the best way to im- prove economic opportunity and to reduce inequality is to increase the educational attainment and skills of American workers. "2 The New York Times columnist David Brooks has referred to "the skills slowdown" as "the biggest issue facing the country. "s In writing about how to increase growth in America, David Leonhardt, also at the New York Times, says sim- ply: "Education--educating more people and educating them better-- appears to be the best single bet that a society can make. ’’4 Bernanke was wise to couch his argmnent in terms of educational at- tainment (which we generally equate with earning a degree) rather than ust enrofiment or years of school completed, for the payoff to complet- ing one’s studies is much higher than the payoff to having ’lust been there" another year--the so-called "sheepskin" effectfi In our view, too much discussion has focused on initial access to educational opportuni- ties ("getting started") rather than on attainment ("finishing"). It is note- worthy that in his first speech to a joint session of Congress (and then in his budget message), President Barack Obama emphasized the impor- tance of graduatingfrom college, notjust enrolling.~ In any case, as Bernanke and others have sh-essed, the key linkage is be- tween tim formation of human capital and productivity. In his Class Day remarks, Bernanke observed: "The productivity surge in the decades af- ter World War II corresponded to a period in which educational attain- ment was increasing rapidly." Technological change and the breaking d°wn of barriers to the exchange of infmTnation and ideas across bound. CHAPTER 1 aries of every kind have unquestionably increased the value of brainpower and training in every country. As President Obama has said: "In a globaland training in every country....
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This note was uploaded on 02/22/2012 for the course SOC 1010 taught by Professor Angelikagulbis during the Spring '08 term at Toledo.

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Bowen - C R O S S I N G T H E F I N I S H L I N E C O M P L...

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