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Conference in Celebration of the 75th Birthday of Eric A. Hanushek


Join AEI as World Bank authors present their new study, “Fair Progress? Economic Mobility Across Generations Around the World,” which studies economic mobility not only in the developed world but also, for the first time, in developing economies using new data. The study examines whether people are destined to remain in the same economic circumstances into which they were born, and it looks back over a half century at whether children’s lives are better or worse than their parents’ in different parts of the world.

The panelists discussed the database’s importance and limitations. AEI’s Eric A. Hanushek framed the debate in the context of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. He called for measuring and improving education, which the report did not address. The Brookings Institution’s John McArthur remarked that the database is likely the start of a greater effort to initiate research on intergenerational mobility. The Joint Economic Committee’s Scott Winship added that absolute mobility should be a secondary indicator and that this database should be examined alongside income levels to understand global economic growth.


The US spends about $12,500 a year per public-school student, which many argue is not enough to ensure a high-quality education for all students. Economics professor Bryan Caplan argues just the opposite in his forthcoming book, “The Case Against Education: Why the Education System Is a Waste of Time and Money” (Princeton University Press, January 2018), claiming that education is overrated, primarily serving as a credentialing institution that does not add much value.

Does education enhance students’ knowledge and skills? Or does it mostly “signal” their intelligence, work ethic, and conformity — the qualities of a good employee?

Join AEI as Bryan Caplan debates AEI’s Eric Hanushek about the value of education. The event will feature an interactive debate, with audience members voting to determine a winner.