A libertarian inclined blog for teachers and learners of all ages. Comments, emails and links to other educational stuff welcome.

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Next entry: "There aren't very many jobs for teenagers ..."
Previous entry: Hub caps and phone photographs
Sunday May 11 2008

Fareed Zakaria says that the USA’s relative economic decline is (see page 6 much exaggerated:

The United States is currently ranked as the globe’s most competitive economy by the World Economic Forum.  It remains dominant in many industries of the future like nanotechnology, biotechnology, and dozens of smaller high-tech fields.

In particular, says Zakaria, the USA remains pre-eminent in higher education:

Its universities are the finest in the world, making up 8 of the top ten and 37 of the top fifty, according to a prominent ranking produced by Shanghai Jiao Tong University.  A few years ago the National Science Foundation put out a scary and much-discussed statistic.  In 2004, the group said, 950,000 engineers graduated from China and India, while only 70,000 graduated from the United States.  But those numbers are wildly off the mark.  If you exclude the car mechanics and repairmen - who are all counted as engineers in Chinese and Indian statistics - the numbers look quite different.  Per capita, it turns out, the United States trains more engineers than either of the Asian giants.

But isn’t the point that “per capita”?  A smaller proportion of a vastly greater number is still a huge absolute number.

Joanne Jacobs makes a similar point about the continuing qualitative superiority of US education.