chapter  2
16 Pages

Why Education Matters

In her 2002 work, Alison Wolf famously asked: Does education matter? In particular, she proposed that the almost universal assumption of policy-makers that education caused economic growth might be wrong and that, in many cases, it really was the other way round: Growth caused education. In the interests of accuracy, it needs to be said straight away that Wolf’s case is based on a thorough review of available data, and also that she surrounds it by a number of important caveats concerning aspects of education that clearly are important for growth, and the kinds of economies to which her argument applies. Nevertheless, she was clear that there is no evidence that, in developed economies, more education equates to more growth in any general, across-the-board fashion. She further points out that the growth of education is not necessarily a reversible process, and that therefore: “We don’t have any idea of how much less education we could get away with from a purely economic point of view” (Wolf, 2002, p. 54).