February 12, 2004

Education vs. Prosperity

Although it seems counter-intuitive, education has no direct relation to prosperity of a nation. I ran across Pelle and his article EconoTrix: The pitfalls of Philanthropy through the discussion about Cuban Education. This tied nicely into what Philip Greenspun said: "[in spite of] an excellent public education system ... Cubans are dirt poor."

Leftists raise the argument about the excellent Cuban education vs. poor U.S. education because, here in the U.S, education = prosperity. Schools here are very expensive, so mostly wealthy can afford good colleges, and mostly those who graduate from good colleges become rich and successful.

However, if the whole population is well educated, such as in former Soviet Union, ex-Yugoslavia, and Cuba, the country as a whole need not be prosperous. Educated or not, the elite of a state will try to keep the rest of the population (educated or not) in submission. It all comes down to Pelle's 1st law:

"The survival of anyone regardless of education and idealism, comes ahead of the greater good."

Posted by laza at February 12, 2004 06:10 PM

Your point about education != prosperity in many parts of the world is so true. I hadnt thought about that.

An example of the opposite of Russia, Yugoslavia are many of the tiny super rich micro states that you find in the gulf states and in the Caribbean.

I used to live in Tortola in the British Virgin Islands. They have a very high GDP Capita and the standard of living is very high.

Your average Tortolan family has several SUV's own huge tracts of very expensive property that they rent out to foreigners.

The only problem is that the education level isnt very high. Many people have no more than a 7th grade education, so they have to import well educated people from poorer countries such as Jamaica to do the technical and managerial jobs.

These white collar guestworkers were about the only people you could have an interesting conversation with there. I later moved to Jamaica, which was much poorer but a lot more intellectually stimulating.


Posted by: Pelle at February 12, 2004 06:52 PM

It also matters what qualifies as 'good' education. I was born in the Soviet Union and moved to the US when I was a kid. My parents always said my American education was incredible because the teachers didn't seem to obviously hate the kids, like their teachers did in Russia. It's the package, not just the curriculum.

Posted by: Karol at February 16, 2004 02:29 PM
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