Education and Social Programs: Workshop Report

Document Type


Publication Date



Economic History Association / Cambridge University Press


Research workshops offer an opportunity for both prospective and retrospective examinations of work in a particular area of inquiry. This report consists of notes prepared for this workshop as well as a summary of discussions with some of those attending in New Orleans. The major focus is on the analysis of the development of formal educational systems. The report begins with an historical overview of work in this area and continues with discussions of how our training and interests as economists and historians may enable us more effectively to examine the historical evolution of educational systems. The number of analysts trained in the methods of modem social science who have turned their attention to the operation of for1r1al educational systems, let alone their historical development, is not large. In the past quarter century, however, two related theoretical developments canalized a certain amount of research interest in this direction. The first was the revival of interest in the economics of development following World War II, which coincided with the emergence from colonial status of many formerly dependent areas. The second was the human capital revolution in economic thinking, which can be dated roughly from Schultz' 1961 American Economic Review article, 1 or Becker's 1964 book. 2 Together, these developments suggested that at the macroeconomic level output per worker could be increased by removing a certain fraction of the labor force from production, putting it in school, and then returning it to the labor force at some future date, presumably with higher output per worker as a result of what had been learned.