My co-intern in the primary care program, Ishani Ganguli, is an incredibly thoughtful individual who writes really well. She has a blog (a real blog, one with a consistently large readership that is fronted by the Boston Globe) that discusses various aspects of health care and medical education through the eyes of a resident. Worth checking out, especially her latest post on teamwork in health care.
-There's a great book, now a classic, by Robert Fulgham called "All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten." Now some new research from some big shot economists on the value of a good kindergarten experience:
In Project STAR, 11,571 students in Tennessee and their teachers were randomly assigned to classrooms within their schools from kindergarten to third grade. This paper evaluates the long-term impacts of STAR by linking the experimental data to administrative records. We first demonstrate that kindergarten test scores are highly correlated with outcomes such as earnings at age 27, college attendance, home ownership, and retirement savings. We then document four sets of experimental impacts. First, students in small classes are significantly more likely to attend college and exhibit improvements on other outcomes. Class size does not have a significant effect on earnings at age 27, but this effect is imprecisely estimated. Second, students who had a more experienced teacher in kindergarten have higher earnings. Third, an analysis of variance reveals significant classroom effects on earnings. Students who were randomly assigned to higher quality classrooms in grades K-3 – as measured by classmates' end-of-class test scores – have higher earnings, college attendance rates, and other outcomes. Finally, the effects of class quality fade out on test scores in later grades but gains in non-cognitive measures persist.
-In related news, there's a great recent NYT Op-Ed on the cost of high school dropouts to the US economy (thanks James Hudspeth!). The authors (both well known economists) mention the following:
Studies show that the typical high school graduate will obtain higher employment and earnings — an astonishing 50 percent to 100 percent increase in lifetime income — and will be less likely to draw on public money for health care and welfare and less likely to be involved in the criminal justice system.
So a good economics question: if high school completion is so valuable, why would anyone drop out? Is it because of ability (low ability kids are forced out), time preference (the value of now exceeds the returns of income later?), or a lack of information about the returns to high school? There are other explanations. But if we assume that people make choices based on marginal returns, it seems bizarre that so many would drop out and leave that kind of money on the table, right? Thoughts?