Young children’s cognitive and non-cognitive development significantly affects outcomes for them later on in life. This column asks what effect reading to young children has. Evidence suggests that children should be regularly read to, especially by their parents. Although reading has little effect on non-cognitive skills, the benefits to cognitive development are huge.
The UK is under fire for pulling up the drawbridge for bright foreign students by limiting visas and complicating the application process. This column argues that welcoming large numbers of foreign PhD students bodes well for countries and universities interested in scientific and engineering innovation. Science and engineering are, after all, critical for the growth and competitiveness of industrial economies. Policies that serve to limit or discourage the enrolment of international graduate students lead to reductions in the rate of scientific discovery.
Elite universities’ admission policies are perennially surrounded by controversy given the thorny efficiency and equity issues involved. This column discusses research into such policies focusing on the degree of meritocracy and non-academic bias. It suggests that men and private-school applicants have somewhat higher application success rates despite being held to higher academic admission standards.
Economists know that your peers’ behaviour affects your economic and social outcomes. But what mechanisms are at work here? This column highlights the two major approaches that hope to explain ‘peer effects’: either people don’t want to deviate from social norms; or they are affected by a ‘social multiplier’, the influence of the sum of their peers’ behaviour. Using detailed data on friendship networks, evidence suggests that there are strong social-multiplier effects in criminal behaviour whereas, for education, social norms matter the most. A detailed understanding of peer effects will undoubtedly help policymakers better tackle social problems.
Average income per capita is strongly correlated with more schooling, but this relationship is more complex than it appears. This column presents new research showing that a large part of the correlation is attributed to the causal effect of economic prosperity on the formation of human capital via schooling.
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Baldwin, Kawai, Wignaraja, 11 June 2013