A fresh, provocative analysis of the debate on education and employment.
Up-and-coming economist Moretti (Economics/Univ. of California, Berkeley) takes issue with the “[w]idespread misconception…that the problem of inequality in the United States is all about the gap between the top one percent and the remaining 99 percent.” The most important aspect of inequality today, he writes, is the widening gap between the 45 million workers with college degrees and the 80 million without—a difference he claims affects every area of peoples' lives. The college-educated part of the population underpins the growth of America's economy of innovation in life sciences, information technology, media and other areas of globally leading research work. Moretti studies the relationship among geographic concentration, innovation and workplace education levels to identify the direct and indirect benefits. He shows that this clustering favors the promotion of self-feeding processes of growth, directly affecting wage levels, both in the innovative industries as well as the sectors that service them. Indirect benefits also accrue from knowledge and other spillovers, which accompany clustering in innovation hubs. Moretti presents research-based evidence supporting his view that the public and private economic benefits of education and research are such that increased federal subsidies would more than pay for themselves. The author fears the development of geographic segregation and Balkanization along education lines if these issues of long-term economic benefits are left inadequately addressed.
A welcome contribution from a newcomer who provides both a different view and balance in addressing one of the country's more profound problems.