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Ought ain't is: midnight thoughts on education

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  • Lant Pritchett

Abstract

Arguably nothing is more important to long-run improvement in human well being than a high quality basic education for every child. Promoting the achievement of this goal requires a serviceable positive model of education policies—a coherent causal explanation of why governments actually do what they do. This paper is part of a series of three papers that creates a theoretical framework for educational policy in developing countries. Here I show that “normative as positive” (NAP)-- explaining that the policies actually chosen were chosen because they maximize an individualized social welfare function--fails as a useful general positive model of schooling. While NAP can perhaps accommodate the fact of some direct production of schooling by some governments, the reality is that (nearly) all governments produce education and that, by and large, this is their only support to education. Moreover, NAP fails not just in the large but also the small: there are six additional common facts about educational policies inconsistent with NAP.

Suggested Citation

  • Lant Pritchett, 2004. "Ought ain't is: midnight thoughts on education," Brussels Economic Review, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles, vol. 47(3-4), pages 321-340.
  • Handle: RePEc:bxr:bxrceb:y:2004:v:47:i:3-4:p:321-340
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    Keywords

    education; policy; development.;

    JEL classification:

    • H52 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Education
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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