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Causes of Poverty: Education and Ability. Poverty Lecture 14. Today’s topics/questions. Are low educational attainments a significant cause of poverty? How much schooling is optimal from the viewpoint of individuals? from society’s point of view?

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today s topics questions
Today’s topics/questions
  • Are low educational attainments a significant cause of poverty?
  • How much schooling is optimal
    • from the viewpoint of individuals?
    • from society’s point of view?
  • Will dramatically increasing our investments in schools that poor children attend and in education and/or training programs for poor parents would significantly reduce the number of poor families? Explain.
years of school completed by poor adults by sex age 18 55 years 2004
Years of School Completed by Poor Adults by Sex, Age 18-55 Years, 2004

Source: Census Bureau, Table Pov29.

are low educational attainments a significant cause of poverty
Are low educational attainments a significant cause of poverty?
  • What is Schiller’s answer?
    • At the level of the individual:
      • “Educational attainments significantly determine who will be poor in a given economic situation.” (165)
      • “Those with the least education will end up in poverty.” (164)
are low educational attainments a significant cause of poverty cont
Are low educational attainments a significant cause of poverty?, cont.
  • In the aggregate:
    • “Education may influence who get the available jobs, but the demand for labor will determine how many jobs there are.” (164)
    • “Education by itself can do very little to alter the number of jobs available at any given moment.” (165)
slide7
Why do “Educational attainments significantly determine who will be poor in a given economic situation?”
why the most able are hired first
Why the most able are hired first?
  • When the conditions of perfect competition are met, single firms are price takers in the labor market.
  • Firms will hire only those employees whose value of the marginal product (VMP) is equal to or greater than the equilibrium wage (We)
  • This implies that those with the highest VMPs will be hired first.
  • VMPs are positively correlated with education and ability.
  • “Those with the least education will end up in poverty”
how employers hire
How employers hire
  • What additional information about job candidates influences employer hiring decisions?
  • How do the poor fare under these characteristics?
how much education will individuals rationally choose
How much education will individuals rationally choose?
  • First assume that quality education can be accessed by all. How much education will an individual choose?
    • Worker’s acquire the level of education that maximizes the present value of their lifetime earnings.
pv of future earnings for high school graduate
PV of Future Earnings for High School Graduate

Where r is the worker’s rate of discount and depends on: (1) the market rate of interest, and (2) how we feel about giving up some of today’s consumption in return for future rewards.

pv of future earnings for college graduate
PV of Future Earnings for College Graduate

Where H is the direct costs of college and the remaining 43 terms are the earnings after college.

earnings streams faced by a high school graduate
Earnings Streams faced by a High School Graduate

$

Goes to College

WCOL

Attend College if:

PVCOL > PVHS

Quits after High School

WHS

Age

18

22

65

-H

when should an individual stop going to school
When should an individual stop going to school?
  • When the marginal rate of return to another year of schooling equals or falls below his or her rate of discount (r).
  • The individual’s rate of return is the individual’s percentage increase in earnings resulting from another year of schooling--note that it is unobservable.
  • This “stopping rule” maximizes the worker’s present value of earnings over the life cycle.
individual vs societal benefits of additional years of schooling
Individual vs. Societal Benefits of Additional Years of Schooling
  • Is Adam Smith’s invisible hand at work here? Will the optimal level of education from society’s viewpoint be achieved if each individual pursues the level of education that maximizes his or her PV of future earnings?
  • How do we calculate the payoff of additional schooling to society?
    • The social rate of return is defined as the percentage increase in national income resulting from an additional year of schooling.
individual vs societal benefits of additional years of schooling cont
Individual vs. Societal Benefits of Additional Years of Schooling, cont.
  • When will investment in additional years of schooling result in greater national income?
    • Does education truly increase a worker’s productivity?
    • Aside from increases in productivity, does acquiring educational credentials improve the match between workers and jobs?
recap
Recap
  • Education determines which individuals/families are poor
  • Aggregate demand determines how many individuals and families will be poor.
  • Economic “individuals” make rational decisions about their years of schooling.
do poor people make rational decisions about years of schooling
Do poor people make rational decisions about years of schooling?
  • Too few years of schooling?
  • Too many years of schooling?
slide20
Will investing in education and/or training programs for poor parents significantly reduce the number of poor families? Explain.
  • On page 160-1, Schiller states that, “Keeping some poor persons in school longer may not effectively raise their incomes.”
    • How can this be true?
      • Think about the roles of ability and environment
    • Does his analysis justify the work first approach to welfare?
slide21

Will bringing the quality of schooling for poor children up to the standards of our best public schools significantly reduce poverty? Explain.

  • Can you draw upon some of the material we read previously to help you answer this question?
  • What are the relevant determining factors?
all else equal what is the society s optimal level of investment in education for
All else equal, what is the society’s optimal level of investment in education for
  • Poor adults (Angie, Jewell, Opal)?
  • Poor children?
  • Methodology:
    • Cost-benefit approach
    • Other approaches?
tradeoffs between poor children and poor adults
Tradeoffs between Poor Children and Poor Adults
  • Confronted with a budget constraint that prevents us from attaining optimal levels of investment children and adults, what principles can guide our choices?