The Economic and Social Imperatives of Education
Professor Klaus Schwab, is the Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum. He is a champion of the theory that we are at the beginning of a revolution that is fundamentally changing the way we live, work and relate to one another. He has espoused his beliefs in his new book, "The Fourth Industrial Revolution". This revolution is characterized by a range of new technologies that are fusing the physical, digital and biological worlds, impacting all disciplines, economies and industries.
The “Fourth Industrial Revolution” needs to be noted by policy makers worldwide, and understood as to how it would have a great economic and social impact on society. They need to calibrate it with a strong system of education which would help nations meet this new revolution.
Many believe that the rise of the US economy to its present state of pre-eminence is due to the fact that its workforce is one of the most educated with 85% of adult Americans having at least a high school degree. Two leading researchers in the economics of education, Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz, have published a paper which covers this view “The Legacy of U.S. Educational Leadership: Notes on Distribution and Economic Growth in the Twentieth Century.” https://www.aeaweb.org/articles?id=10.1257/aer.91.2.18
Not only has education impacted the GDP, US data shows that at the personal level, the longer a person stays in school the more he earns. Persons with less than a school diploma are likely to earn about $ 426 weekly while those with a bachelor’s degree are likely to earn upwards of $ 978 weekly. For countries aspiring to raise the living standards of its people, focus on education is a key. In a recent report by UNICEF https://www.unicef.org/publications/files/Investment_Case_for_Education_and_Equity_FINAL.pdf ; a strong economic case for educating the young has been made. This report cites various research to showcase that “For each additional year of Education showed an increase of between 13-30% GDP in different regions”.
While the economic impact has been well documented it is also seen that that the impact in areas of health and social impact are also far-reaching. It is widely acknowledged that Kerala is a state with the highest literacy in India. A lot of academic research has been done to gauge the impact of education on the local society. I would like to state the hypotheses arrived at by one such study:
- “Health Status may positively correlate with level of Education of households.
- “Level of education and Health problems may be inversely correlated”
- “The probability of illness is higher in the health insured individuals”
- “Income level and Medical Treatment Expenditure is directly related”
While education benefits are often measured in economic terms, such as increased income and reduced poverty, even further-reaching effects are found in the health and social areas. Educated people and the children of educated parents tend to be healthier, more empowered regarding their own lives and their society, and socially more tolerant and resolution-seeking. Many of the observed social impacts are linked to women’s education, hence, the importance of girls’ education for future social welfare.
With rapid changes in technology and its impact on society; the need for greater focus on education is paramount. The Economic and Social Imperatives of Education can be summed up in the words of the famous Biographers of Greek Philosophers; Diogenes Laertius
The foundation of every state is the education of its youth.