Q&A on An Education Strategy to Promote Opportunity, Prosperity & Growth

Jason Furman
Jason Furman Aetna Professor of the Practice of Economic Policy - Harvard University, Nonresident Senior Fellow - Peterson Institute for International Economics, Former Brookings Expert

February 1, 2007

Transcript of a video Q&A

The Hamilton Project is about promoting strategies for shared growth and opportunity, and there’s nothing more important for shared growth and opportunity than education. If you look at the last century, one-quarter of America’s productivity growth came from education. If you look at the next century, it’s going to have to be just as important.

What the Hamilton Project wants is people to understand first that education is critical to economic growth, second, that it’s critical to addressing inequality in this country, because a lot of inequality – not all inequality, but a lot of inequality – stems from education. There’s been a lot of attention, a lot of energy around education now and for a long time, and it’s just a question of directing that energy in the right way using the types of evidence-based policies that we’ve seen work at a small scale and taking them up to a larger scale. Jason Furman, Director of The Hamilton Project, on the Project’s education strategy. Watch (wmv) Our economic strategy for education has three parts: for early education it says we need to invest more in early education. We think we get economic returns that can be twice as large as our investments. We think economic growth will be much stronger over the long term. But we’re going to need to do more up-front. For K through 12, while more resources would certainly be helpful, we’re putting a lot of money in right now and the biggest gains are going to come from using that money better. In particular, using the money better to give teachers a real incentive and pay that correlates with their achievements and how great a teacher they are. And then for college, the biggest thing is to understand that a college education eventually pays itself back five to ten times over. The key is that people may not have that money up front, and either making them aware of all the aid that’s available to them by simplifying and consolidating it, or having a set of loans that are easier to repay and easier to understand, mechanisms like that that get people at a position where they can spend the time, spend the money necessary to go to college and reap the enormous rewards, both for themselves and for the economy more broadly.