Scholars and policy-makers around the world routinely look to educational expansion as the “engine” of economic growth. Still, the causal association between schooling and economic development is a problematic one that varies across nations, time periods, and level and type of education.
While empirically examining this relationship between schooling and economic development has been hampered by a host of conceptual and methodological problems that can make generalizations uncertain, schooling - in its broadest possible conceptualization - bears often tentative, but undeniably real causal relationships with economic growth.
This chapter argues that economic development is a nested process that can be usefully examined at four levels – individuals, firms, regions, and nations. Different mechanisms come into play at each of these four levels.
David Bills is Professor of Sociology of Education, Emma E. Holmes Faculty Research Fellow, and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Graduate Programs in the University of Iowa, College of Education. Before coming to Iowa in 1985 he served for three years on the faculty of the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago and was a visiting Assistant Professor at Cornell College in Mt. Vernon, Iowa. He was awarded his Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin in 1981. Professor Bills's research interests are in education and the workplace, labor markets, technological and organizational change, educational demography, and social inequality.