Should America Focus on Bringing Back Manufacturing Jobs?

bryceplattBlog, Business, Economics, MusingsLeave a Comment

During the past two decades the United States has lost about 5 million manufacturing jobs. There is an understandable nostalgia for “the good old days”, as those represent jobs with decent pay and benefits for workers without a college degree. Today, the average factory worker earns more than $25 an hour before overtime; the typical retail worker makes less than … Read More

Does Prior Exposure to Subject Content in High School Help College Students?

bryceplattBlog, Education, Higher Ed, MusingsLeave a Comment

Students who took an introductory course on a subject matter in high school and then took an introductory course on the same subject in college demonstrate little to no significant advantage in their college grade, relative to students who took no such high school course. In this graph, the bar represents the gain in course GPA for students who had … Read More

The Globalization of Learning

bryceplattBlog, Education, Higher Ed, MusingsLeave a Comment

Formal schooling has increased dramatically around the world, as shown by this graph: Of course, “schooling” is not synonymous with “learning”, and the growth in “learning” has been and remains spatially asymmetric. It is estimated that, of the 650 million primary school-age children worldwide, 130 million (38%) have not learned age-appropriate basics, and fewer still have completed four years of … Read More

Weak Overall Productivity Growth Hides Strong Growth in Advanced Industries

bryceplattBlog, Economics, MusingsLeave a Comment

If “advanced industries” are defined as the 50 most R&D- and STEM-worker intensive industries, there is a substantial differential, now exceeding 100%, between their productivity and that of “non-advanced industries”, as shown in the following graph: SOURCE: http://www.brookings.edu/blogs/the-avenue/posts/2016/07/21-productivity-gap-advanced-industries-muro The compound annual growth rate (CAGR) during the past 25 years (1980-2015) has been 2.7% for “advanced industries”, compared to 1.0% for … Read More

Mass Media, Behavioral Psychology, and the Politics of Irrational Fear

bryceplattBlog, Communication, Media, Musings, PsychologyLeave a Comment

The Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) recently conducted a poll of the U.S. public. One question asked was this: “How worried are you that you or someone in your family will be a victim of terrorism?”. The changing results over the past two years are graphed below: SOURCES: http://www.prri.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/PRRI-The-Atlantic-Poll-Topline-FINAL.pdf http://www.brookings.edu/blogs/fixgov/posts/2016/06/25-immigration-campaign-2016-trump-racial-resentment-mcelvein So, 51% of respondents currently are very or somewhat worried. … Read More

Is NATO a Bad Deal for the United States?

bryceplattBlog, Musings, Politics1 Comment

In an interview with the New York Times during the week of the 2016 Republican Convention, presidential nominee Donald Trump said he would defend the Baltic states against a Russian invasion only if he deems that those countries have “fulfilled their obligations to us.” This is consistent with earlier statements from him, such as this Tweet: Donald J. Trump ✔@realDonaldTrump … Read More

Why Do the Pacific States Lag in Early Childhood Education?

bryceplattBlog, Education, Higher Ed2 Comments

The Education Week Research Center recently created a composite “Early Education Index”, and applied their measure to each of the fifty states and the District of Columbia. Source: http://www.edweek.org/media/education-week-early-education-index-2015.pdf A state’s overall index score is an unweighted average of eight indicators of early education. No states mandate preschool attendance, and most 3- and 4-year-olds are not enrolled. For 2015 the … Read More

Where is English Not the Language Inside the Home?

bryceplattBlog, Language Learning, Musings1 Comment

When last measured in 2013, 21% of the U.S. population spoke a language other than English at home. Among residents of such households, more than 40% indicate they speak English “less than very well”. Source: http://cis.org/record-one-in-five-us-residents-speaks-language-other-than-english-at-home The implications are profound for associated school systems, but the spatial distribution is asymmetric. The five Pacific states are defined here as California, Arizona, … Read More