Causal inference is an essential literacy for everyone, especially in the era of information explosion of big data.
Two fresh graduates from Harvard University took a taxi to the center of Boston.
They were very excited and talked about their future plans.
After listening for a few minutes, the taxi driver asked, “Are you graduates of Harvard University?”
The two proudly replied, “Yes, sir! Graduated from 1989.”
The taxi driver stretched out a hand to the back, shook hands with them and said, “I am a graduate of 1948.”
The “famous school complex” seems to be an insoluble knot: teachers and parents always educate their children, “strive to get a good university, so that you can find a good job”; many people have struggled to choose “Tsinghua University or Peking University” when they were young. …Everyone is saying that education is the best investment, so is going to a prestigious school really helpful to a person’s future income?
How much is the reward for being a prestigious school?
Economists call the causal effect of education on income the return of education. This concept emphasizes that education is a human capital investment, which can obtain a monetary return similar to financial investment for investors. However, due to education and many other confounding factors can not be observed in conjunction income to work, so, to return to education for accurate estimates, generation after generation has been the target of efforts to economists.
Jacob Mincer, a well-known economist at the University of Chicago, was the first to use regression methods to conduct quantitative research on returns to education in the 1970s. He used a person’s education level (study time measured in years) and work experience measured in years as explanatory variables to explain changes in people’s income. He estimated that the return on education is 11%, which means that every year a person’s education level increases, the average income can increase by 11%.
But we know that those who have received a high degree of education may be smarter than others, work harder, and have a more positive attitude towards life than those who fail to persevere in the education process. For those who drop out of school, these factors themselves will have an impact on their income levels. This makes Minsell’s estimation result biased.
In 1991, the famous economists Joshua Angrist and Alan Kruger published an article in the top magazine “Economic Quarterly”. They chose a magical instrumental variable—a person’s birth season or month, which can distinguish the effect of reading one more year on future income from the effects of other factors, so as to cleanly identify causal effects.
They found that for children born in the 1920s, those born in the first quarter went to school 0.126 years less than those born in the other three quarters, and the rate of return to education was 0.7 % lower . For children born in the 1940s, those born in the first quarter went to school 0.109 less than those born in the other three quarters, and the rate of return to education was 1.02 percentage points lower.
Therefore, reading is useful. Academic qualifications have a positive effect on a person’s future income level. This effect is not caused by other factors, but is purely a return from education.
Next, our question is: if they all go to university, some of them go to Tsinghua Peking University, and some of them go to an ordinary local college, then how much return will it get from a prestigious school?
In 2002, the research results of economists Stasi Dell and Alan Kruger showed that in the United States, going to an Ivy League school has no significant effect on a person’s future income level compared to going to a general state university. .
If you go to key middle schools, will you win the college entrance examination even more?
It is said that a middle class in Beijing has a lifelong dream of buying a house in Haidian District and sending his children to the High School Attached to the National People’s Congress.
Sending children to key middle schools is the dream of countless Chinese parents!
In Beijing’s Haidian Huangzhuang, there is a Huicong Academy, which is located in Zhongguancun Square in Shangfeng Shangshui. This Huicong Academy was called Wensheng Temple in ancient times. During the Ming and Qing dynasties, it was a holy place for those who entered Beijing to rush for examinations.
Today’s Haidian Huangzhuang, a training institution haunts this heritage building has been carried on for several hundred years of schooling atmosphere. Haidian Huangzhuang is located in the southeast corner of Zhongguancun, Beijing. Not far away is a group of top universities in China- Peking University , Tsinghua University, Renmin University of China, etc. It is also known as the “cosmic tuition center”.
The children who come to Haidian Huangzhuang for tuition are always in a hurry. They enjoy the best educational resources in the country, but they are still diligent, lest they fall behind. Parents also took out money, time and energy to sit together in the cram school and take notes, working harder than the children.
Scenes like Haidian Huangzhuang are not alone in the country. In the eyes of parents, sending their children to key high schools has become part of the elite, and it is only one step away from entering key universities. Such a prospect naturally rushes countless parents, lest their children lose at the starting line.
This phenomenon is true in both East and West, and the United States is no exception. In the public school systems of Boston and New York, there are also some elite schools similar to China’s key middle schools. For example, the flagship of Boston’s elite high schools, Boston Latin School, is the oldest high school in the United States. It was founded in 1635, one year earlier than Harvard University. Unlike most other public schools in the United States, applicants for elite schools are selected based on competitive test scores. In order to enter these middle schools, American children also have to experience fierce competition in order to have the opportunity to obtain a limited number of admissions.
Students who enter elite high schools through brutal selection have always performed well in the U.S. college entrance examination results, which are far higher than ordinary public high schools. This result is naturally the capital of various elite high schools to brag about themselves. Parents are flocking to these elite schools.
First, the elite high school students are excellent, “knows nothing, near the ink were black.” In order to create a good environment for her son, Mencius’s mother moved three times, leaving behind the story of “Meng’s mother’s three migrations”, also because Mengzi believed in the same group effect. Students from the same elite schools, if they study by comparison, are likely to improve their grades together.
Second, these elite middle schools are unique in their curriculum system, offering various advanced courses to improve students’ learning ability and expand their knowledge range. For example, Stuyvesant Middle School boasted that they have the largest number of advanced course learners in the United States. In addition, these secondary schools often provide some academic research opportunities. The students of elite high schools have also won a lot of prizes in the National Mathematics Competition and other similar awards.
Third, but perhaps the most important, these elite middle schools are very rich and can often receive donations and receive financial support for certain special projects. For example, New York’s Brooklyn Brooklyn High School Foundation once for the school fund-raising $ 10 million in 2005, to improve the school’s robotics lab, library, gym and other facilities are used.
Can the outstanding performance of the students of elite high schools on the college entrance examination scores be attributed to the distinctive educational methods of these schools? Does it mean that if you enter an elite middle school, you can win the college entrance examination?
I’m afraid not. These children who can enter elite middle schools are naturally talented. If they are placed in ordinary public middle schools, they may not perform worse than they are now.
In 2014, Angrist and his collaborators Attila Abdulkadirolu and Parag Pasak discovered that entering these elite secondary schools is compared to studying in ordinary public high schools. Did not enable students to achieve better university entrance qualification examination results.
Although the students of these elite high schools are surrounded by the best of the same generation, although their courses are more challenging, compared with those who entered the elite high schools by only a few points, and only a few points The students who entered ordinary public schools after being left behind by the Sun Shan did not show any better results in the university entrance examination results.
What is the meaning of key high schools and prestigious universities?
We need to reflect on a question: What is the real purpose of education?
If the purpose of our education is to learn to think, to master knowledge and skills, then what is the meaning of key high schools and prestigious universities?
In the eyes of many parents, the true purpose of receiving education seems to have long been left behind. They believe that as long as they get the stepping stone to key high schools or prestigious universities, their children will get the golden key to a higher social status, more wealth, and a more successful life. At this time, what a good high school and a famous university can go to is entirely to satisfy the need to show off. Our children are actually very pitiful. They have to do their best for the little capital that their parents can show off, and they even forget what a happy life should be like.
So, what about the children raised in this way?
In 2016, American educator William Dresiewicz wrote a book “Excellent Sheep”. He criticized the elite education system formed in the United States from the second half of the 20th century.
Dresiewicz’s college career began in 1981, when the elite education system in the United States was just beginning to take shape. All links of this system are closely intertwined, as if it were a tightly sealed system. This system includes not only Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Williams and other prestigious schools, but also everything related to it, such as elite high schools and private schools, as well as the booming tutoring industry and learning consulting services, exam tutoring, and Various honor items, etc. Of course, behind this are parents and communities desperately pushing their children into this huge machine.
Dresiewicz himself can be said to be the lucky one of this system. He started at Columbia University, one of the Ivy League schools, and went to Ph.D., and later taught at Yale University, another Ivy League school for more than ten years.
But he found that although most of the students trained by this elite education system are very smart, talented, and high-spirited, at the same time they are full of anxiety, timid and fearful, at a loss for the future, and extremely lack of curiosity and curiosity. A sense of purpose. They live in a huge bubble of privilege, and all of them are honestly moving in the same direction. They are good at solving the problems at hand, but they have no idea why they should be solved.
In the eyes of Dresevich, they are a group of excellent sheep.
What is real education? Real education is for us to learn to think independently, to learn to choose wisely, to embrace faith, and to be free. The purpose of true education should be to learn a way of thinking. Real education should enable us to master the ultimate ability to obtain happiness.
The best time to plant a tree is ten years ago, followed by now. I hope we can move towards these real educational goals, so that every child has the ability to live a happy life.
Title: “Detective Economics” Author: Li Jingkui Publishing House: CITIC Publishing Group
about the author:
Li Jingkui , Zhejiang University Institute for Advanced Studies in Humanities scholars visit, Harvard University Law and Economics project visit Wen Xue who postdoctoral researcher, Professor of Economics, Trade and Industry, Zhejiang University, doctoral tutor, published in the legal field of economics and history of economic thought and more Articles, published many monographs. He is also the author of a collection of essays “Experience: An Economist Seeing America at Harvard”, translated as “Collected Works of John Maynard Keynes” (a total of eleven volumes).
Editor’s note: This article is compiled from “Detective Economics”, author: Li Jingkui, released with authorization.
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