We are happy to see that the Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi Foundation for Policy Research mentioned our research on knowledge economies in their policy paper on education quality and economic growth in the UAE. The link to the report is below.
A few comments
- We can see from the Psacharopoulos and Patrinos data is a trend of increasing returns to education with level. This is certainly a positive evolution which suggests that the current educational policy focus on primary and secondary access must be complemented now with a focus on higher education quality.
- One point that could receive some more research is probing why Emirati women choose to pursue higher education at higher rates than men. I am not fully convinced by an economic argument for this trend. I can see the economic rationale for the case of men entering the labor market early, but with women I think there are other reasons beyond private rates of return which are motivating their decisions.
- With TIMSS and PISA scores there has been some concern that countries cherry pick high performing schools for participation. This is certainly something that must be considered when we look at schools from the region. There is likely to be significant variability around school performance.
- One critical assumption of the knowledge-economy ideology is that economic growth will always produce high skill, high wage jobs. What if this is not the case in the MENA? What if countries like India or other Arab countries like Egypt develop high skill, low wage workforces that compress wages for knowledge-based professions in the Gulf? This is certainly a trend we see with outsourcing from the US and Europe to low cost destinations which are rapidly moving up the value chain of outsourced services.
The report can be found here