Acton Institute Powerblog

Is education signaling or skill building?

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Note: This is post #55 in a weekly video series on basic microeconomics.

Do you learn about things, because the learning itself matters, or is education all about the signal you—and your degree—send out to the world? Is education really about building skills, or does it serve only to transmit intangible traits, like your level of talent or your persistence?

In this video by Marginal Revolution University, economists Tyler Cowen and Alex Tabarrok debate these questions and consider education’s effect on our lives and well-being.

(If you find the pace of the videos too slow, I’d recommend watching them at 1.5 to 2 times the speed. You can adjust the speed at which the video plays by clicking on “Settings” (the gear symbol) and changing “Speed” from normal to 1.25, 1.5 or 2.)

Previous in series: The marginal product of labor

Joe Carter Joe Carter is a Senior Editor at the Acton Institute. Joe also serves as an editor at the The Gospel Coalition, a communications specialist for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and as an adjunct professor of journalism at Patrick Henry College. He is the editor of the NIV Lifehacks Bible and co-author of How to Argue like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator (Crossway).

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