Is inequality good for growth?

Whether inequality affects growth is an interesting question for at least two reasons. First, today inequality is a hot topic, and many claim it is bad for our economy. Is there any truth to these claims? Should we actively try to reduce inequality?

Second, if wealth distribution matters for growth, then differences in development among countries can potentially be (partially) explained by their initial, historical wealth distributions. For instance, if inequality is good for growth, then it could be that countries with high inequality at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution (i.e. when growth kicked off) have done better than those with low inequality.

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Online education and inequality

Web-based teaching methods have been becoming increasingly popular and widespread lately. In the forefront are MOOCs, but one can think of any lecture or short video online, educational games, simulations, websites, quizzes, problem sets, etc. as part of a wide array of online tools that can help one learn.

But what is the effect of these new tools? Are they – for instance – crowding out “real-life” teachers from the market, or depress their wages? Or do they perhaps increase the gap between countries with low and high education levels?

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What should you major in?

While it’s important to study what you love, it is also useful to consider your future opportunities when choosing a major. Salaries and unemployment rates vary widely among majors. And when we add the possibility of going to grad school into the equation, things get even more complicated.

In this post I will discuss data from a paper by Akbari and Aydede that examined the earnings potential and unemployment for a plethora of college majors using micro data from Canada.

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Explaining high drop-out rates

College drop-out rates are soaring in America and most people seem to blame high tuitions for that. In this post I will compare the U.S. with other countries to see whether there is indeed a connection between tuition and college drop-out rates.

The post was inspired by a conversation I had with a friend of mine about higher education. When trying to explain markedly different drop-out rates in our respective countries, the topic of tuitions came up.

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Learning styles and academic achievement

The reasons for disparities in school performance are manifold. There is one factor, however, that in my experience often gets overlooked to the extent that most conventional schools really pay no attention to it whatsoever. This is the question of different learning styles.

Different people learn best with different learning styles. But are certain learning styles a better fit with certain educational systems? And are certain teaching styles more advantegous for students with a given learning style? If the answer is yes, then our schools are overlooking a whole bunch of questions.

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Inequality in education due to cultural identity

In a recent working paper, Carvalho and Koyama explore how cultural identity may influence one’s attitude towards education.

It seems to be a fact that certain groups underinvest in their education relative to others. This phenomenon can be observed in many countries. The hypothesis of the authors is that this is due the fact that education (in a sense) teaches mainstream culture. People belonging to different (sub)cultures thus might resist education for fear of losing their identity.

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