The Seeds of Growth

Eric A. Hanushek
Published Date
Fall 2002
Education Next
pp. 10-17
The early 1990s saw the height of the east Asian miracle. The economies of Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, and other countries of the region were expanding at rates that dwarfed those of the United States and the mostly European nations of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The so-called “Asian tigers” were projected to surpass the U.S.economy in the not-sodistant future. In the national soul-searching that ensued, new attention was focused on the system. Our poor academic performance vis-a-vis the countries of East Asia and indeed most ofthe developed world became a source of deep concern. The touchstone A Nation at Risk report expressed fear of a deteriorating education system leading to an erosion in our global standing. Thus many educators breathed a sigh of relief when the East Asian countries lost their luster. The U.S. economy entered a record-breaking period of high employment and recession-free growth during the 1990s, while Japan stagnated terribly—thereby validating, supposedly, our educational performance and approach.