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Education and Skills: An Assessment of Recent Canadian Experience

In: The State of Economics in Canada: Festschrift in Honour of David Slater

Listed author(s):
  • W. Craig Riddell

The skills issue is currently at or near the top of the federal government’s policy agenda, given its importance for harnessing the benefits of technological advances. Policy initiatives in the area should be premised on an accurate assessment of Canada’s recent experience in education and skill formation. In his paper, W. Craig Riddell attempts such an assessment. He provides a careful examination of trends in education expenditures and outcomes in Canada compared to other countries, looks at trends in the incidence of education, and analyzes the link between education and labour market success. Riddell’s overall assessment of Canada’s record in education and skills is quite positive. He finds that relative to other OECD countries, Canada ranks near the top in terms of expenditure per student and share of GDP devoted to elementary, secondary and post-secondary education; that Canada’s population is well educated by international standards, with the highest proportion of the population with non-university, post-secondary education in the OECD; and that the country’s literacy skills, particularly for the young and well educated, are above average among the G7 countries that participated in the International Adult Literacy Survey. One possible weakness he identifies is the relatively low student achievement in mathematics among the G7 countries that participated in the standardized tests. This suggests Canada may not be obtaining good “value for money” from its relatively high expenditure on education. Riddell notes that the conventional estimates of the return to education appear downward biased so that the causal effect of education on earnings may be higher than previously believed. Evidence suggests that the marginal return to incremental investment in education exceeds the average from previous investments and that there is no evidence that investments in schooling are running into diminishing returns. Riddell concludes that investments in human capital remain an important potential source of economic growth and equality of opportunity.

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This chapter was published in: Patrick Grady & Andrew Sharpe (ed.) The State of Economics in Canada: Festschrift in Honour of David Slater, Centre for the Study of Living Standards, pages 485-517, 2001.
This item is provided by Centre for the Study of Living Standards in its series The State of Economics in Canada: Festschrift in Honour of David Slater with number 19.
Handle: RePEc:sls:secfds:19
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References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

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  1. Robert H. Haveman & Barbara L. Wolfe, 1984. "Schooling and Economic Well-Being: The Role of Nonmarket Effects," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 19(3), pages 377-407.
  2. Ana M. Ferrer & W. Craig Riddell, 2002. "The role of credentials in the Canadian labour market," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 35(4), pages 879-905, November.
  3. Card, David, 1999. "The causal effect of education on earnings," Handbook of Labor Economics,in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 30, pages 1801-1863 Elsevier.
  4. Card, David, 2001. "Estimating the Return to Schooling: Progress on Some Persistent Econometric Problems," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(5), pages 1127-1160, September.
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