Clive Crook: The dumbing of America

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For the first time in decades, and probably ever, workers retiring from the US labour force will be better-educated on average (according to one measure anyway) than their much younger counterparts. Some 12 per cent of 60-64 year olds have a master’s degree or better; less than 10 per cent of 30-34 year olds do. More generally, the decades-long rise in the educational quality of the labour force is coming to an end. This is important, because that rise has been one of the principal forces driving American economic growth.

These findings are from a new study by Jacob Funk Kirkegaard of the Peterson Institute for International Economics: “The Accelerating Decline in America’s High-Skilled Workforce: Implications for Immigration Policy”. If you are interested in the prospects for American competitiveness and continued economic leadership, Jacob’s study is mandatory reading.

Read it all; the previous article we posted from the AT&T CEO is worth rereading in this context.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducation* Economics, PoliticsEconomy* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

3 Comments
Posted March 30, 2008 at 3:36 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. CharlesB wrote:

I was over 30 when I got my master’s, so the fair analysis would be what percent of 60-64 year olds had their master’s before age 30 vs. the percentage of 30-34 year olds with a master’s.  My father-in-law was over 30 before he got his bachelor’s.  Two of our four children have their master’s, and they were both very close to 30 when they accomplished that.

March 31, 5:53 am | [comment link]
2. Jim K wrote:

Charles, with respect, I would argue that the precise comparability of the data between the 30-34 age cohort and the 60-64 one (of which I am a proud, if inadvertent member) is less important than the practical implication:  if US and global industry cannot find the graduate degreed workforce it seeks in the US,  the search will expand to bringing foreign workers in to the US or outsourcing the work to those nations where the workforce has those qualifications.  For myself, paying as I am for my son’s university education, the issue is closely intertwined with the relentless inflation in the costs of university degrees.  Surely the out of control costs of these degrees has something to do with the declining numbers of Americans who can pursue them.

March 31, 10:48 pm | [comment link]
3. Harvey wrote:

Jim,  of course the US industry will outsource from the rest of the world.  Offshore wages and salaries are less than US.  I may not be using the exact words that Henry Ford used but he was quoted as saying that his cars would someday be made by machines making the human auto worker obsolete.  Walter Ruether who was at Henry’s elbow spoke up and made the point of saying to him”...but Henry, who is going to buy them??”

April 1, 10:05 am | [comment link]
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