Saturday, July 19, 2008

The American Economy and American Technical Education

Quiz time: in the future, do you think economic growth and competitiveness will depend MORE on scientists and engineers, or less? Venture capitalist Ben Rosen has a great but sobering blog entry about the number of technical PhDs being produced in the U.S. and (where else) China. (Credit to Rosen for the figure below.) The U.S. is getting better at producing massage therapists and MBAs, but considerably worse at minting scientists and engineers, on whose innovations economic growth depends (as a VC guy Rosen might know something about this, and you can see why he's concerned):

And yet we haven't heard a serious debate between candidates – or really any earnest discussion – on how to restore our flagging support for talent production in the technical sector. Come on, John, you're about to be the new head of the party of business and international strength. If you want to show how soft a soft-headed liberal lawyer is, get him in a debate about science and engineering in the modern economy.

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