NEW YORK – Business leaders often argue that the widening education gap – the disparity between what young people learn and the skills that the job market demands – is a leading contributor to high unemployment and slow growth in many countries. For their part, governments seem convinced that the best way to close the gap is to increase the number of students pursuing degrees in the so-called “STEM” subjects (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). Are they right?
The short answer is no. Indeed, the two main arguments underpinning claims that inadequate education is to blame for poor economic performance are weak, at best.