Study after study has shown a yawning educational achievement gap between the poorest and wealthiest children in America. But what does this gap costs in terms of lost economic growth and tax revenue?
That’s what researchers at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth set out to discover in a new study that concluded the United States could ultimately enrich everybody by improving educational performance for the typical student.
When it comes to math and science scores, the United States lags most of the other 33 advanced industrialized countries that make up theOrganization for Economic Cooperation and Development, ranking 24th, far behind Korea, Poland and Slovenia.
Moving up just a few notches to 19th — so that the average American score matched the O.E.C.D. average — would add 1.7 percent to the nation’s gross domestic product over the next 35 years, according to estimates by the Washington Center, a nonpartisan, liberal-leaning research group focused on narrowing inequality. That could lead to roughly $900 billion in higher government revenue, more than making up for the cost of such an effort.Also at the New York Times, Dionne Searcey and Robert Gebeloff wrote last week:
The middle class that President Obama identified in his State of the Union speech last week as the foundation of the American economy has been shrinking for almost half a century.
In the late 1960s, more than half of the households in the United States were squarely in the middle, earning, in today’s dollars, $35,000 to $100,000 a year. Few people noticed or cared as the size of that group began to fall, because the shift was primarily caused by more Americans climbing the economic ladder into upper-income brackets.
But since 2000, the middle-class share of households has continued to narrow, the main reason being that more people have fallen to the bottom. At the same time, fewer of those in this group fit the traditional image of a married couple with children at home, a gap increasingly filled by the elderly.
This social upheaval helps explain why the president focused on reviving the middle class, offering a raft of proposals squarely aimed at concerns like paying for a college education, taking parental leave, affording child care and buying a home.