Thursday, December 23, 2010

Five from vacation: education, hyperinflation, and Chinese food safety

I've been taking my Christmas vacation early this year, and since my son hasn't woken up yet I got to do a little econ reading this morning. That sentence belongs under the heading "You know you picked the right profession when...".

Today we're talking about education
Recent research (Hanushek via Mankiw) shows:  
A teacher one standard deviation above the mean effectiveness annually generates marginal gains of over $400,000 in present value of student future earnings with a class size of 20 and proportionately higher with larger class sizes. Alternatively, replacing the bottom 5-8 percent of teachers with average teachers could move the U.S. near the top of international math and science rankings with a present value of $100 trillion.
Tino demonstrates that the PISA data really aren't that negative on Americans because it includes immigrant workers. If you compare European-descent students in Europe to European-descent in the US, the students in the US score higher. If you compare Asian-descent students in Asia to Asian-descent in the US, they score just as well. The issue is that we have a lot more immigrants, we filter out for high-skilled workers less, and he claims it's otherwise unfair to compare a city with a large and diverse nation.

In other news, Mankiw shows us how to do menu costs during hyperinflaiton (write them in chalk so you can update the price during the course of the day), Cowen asks why we need price controls if the point of health care legislation was to bring costs down, and Powell reports that the Chinese food safety system puts the onus of accountability on the regulators who can be sentences to ten years in prison if people are harmed through their negligence.

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