College Not Necessarily An Indicator For A Country’s Innovation And Economic Well Being

by Ben Hoffman

As this chart shows, Russia is ranked number one for pecentage of 25-34 year olds with higher degrees. Canada is second. Yet you don’t hear of a whole lot of innovation coming out of those countries. Russia is probably number one for computer espionage, hacking, virus creation, and other unsavory activities, and that could be considered innovation, but not exactly something a country should aspire to.

The U.S. in ranked 12th.

Do these rankings indicate the health or potential for innovation? We’ll try to find an answer to that question in the next post.

5 Comments to “College Not Necessarily An Indicator For A Country’s Innovation And Economic Well Being”

  1. Mr. Hoffman,

    I do not believe it. You and I agree on something. At least partly. I am not against education at all, but I know a lot of over educated, under employed people.

    A lot of degrees are not worth the paper they are printed on. Youngsters are coming out of college with 4 year degrees and many thousands of dollars in debt, only to work in Department stores.

    As far as Russia and it’s brainy kids misusing their educations , I speculate that it’s lack of opportunity. Russia is still very corrupt and with Putin renationalizing it’s industries, crime is the only thing that pays well.

    • Hmmm, this is scary to me, being in college right now! And I’ve done my retail penance already! I left retail to go back to school, and here I am getting a liberal arts degree…I’d better not end up in a department store! Wah!

  2. Ben,

    Your statement about Canada not being known for innovation is a bit indicative of the present state of the American media. For its size (population) Canada has been quite productive in the fields of medicine and space technology – oh yeah, that little thing called a Blackberry – that’s Canadian.

    The people from NASA were skeptical. Should they entrust one of the most crucial aspects of the new shuttle program to a relatively untested engineering team from Canada? Their decision, in 1975, to do just that has meant that Canadians are responsible for one of the most significant advances in space engineering—the Canadarm.

    Actually called the Shuttle Remote Manipulator System, one of the Canadarm’s most impressive engineering achievements is its ability to capture a free-flying payload in a zero gravity environment.


  3. Ben – education may sometimes not lead to innovation or even decent jobs. And that’s so often the case in a downturn. But there’s never a time when education doesn’t contribute to the society as a whole.

    I look forward to your extended post on the subject.

    • I haven’t had time to research this more, but I think it depends on what people are getting their degrees in. At the micro level, education matters quite a bit.

      Take the tech boom of the 90s, for example. The economy here in Colorado back in the 80s was dominated by the oil industry, and when the the industry went bust, the economy here collapsed. But Colorado had a good university system with a lot of students studying engineering and sciences, so when the tech boom began, Colorado was a good place for tech companies to locate because of the educated workforce available. The Denver/Boulder area became the third hottest region for high tech jobs in the country. That led to a housing boom and the economy soared in the 90s. Even with the recession, it’s still not as bad as most of the country.

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