What’s the relationship between test scores and gross domestic product? Do higher test scores lead to higher GDP?
This question may seem a bit strange because most people think about the value of education on a much smaller, less abstract scale, usually in terms of “my children” or “my education.” Will my children earn a higher wage in the future if they do well on school examinations today? If I major in engineering, will I earn a higher income than if I majored in English?
The answer to these question is usually assumed to be a resounding “yes.” Doing better on examinations or studying subjects that are perceived to be more valuable will result in higher wages at the individual level and higher GDP at the national level. Such a belief shapes educational policies and influences educational decision making by families. It has even resulted in a global private tutoring industry that prepares students for tests in hopes of getting ahead.
But what if this assumption isn’t true? What if the relationship between test scores and GDP isn’t so straightforward?
With me today are Hikaru Komatsu and Jeremy Rappleye. Recently they have been publishing numerous articles (see here, here, and here) challenging the statistical research supporting the conclusion that higher tests scores cause higher GDPs. Instead, they find that test scores don’t determine GDP by all that much.