Around the World in Forty Years, Volume II: Ten Tremendous Years

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Thomas Edison put his work desk in the center of his personal three-story library. On a great podcast episode of the Knowledge Project, Patrick Collison, the self-made billionaire founder of Stripe, makes the following case:. At every moment, you should be reading the best book you know of in the world [for you]. Life is too short and there are just too many good books out there. On the other hand, we have to be careful about going too far in the other direction, abandoning great books just because we see a book with a catchy title.

This is where Fractal Reading earns its stripes. We know that targeted advertisements are effective. They affect us both consciously and unconsciously. Similarly, books placed strategically in our environment do the same. My mentor, business partner, and friend Eben Pagan thinks of a bookshelf as a playlist of all-time intellectual greats:. If you have a great potential book, now may not be the right time to read it.

It might be in a year, or 10 years. But when you see a book at the right time, you will become curious about it and take it off your bookshelf. Patrick Collison speaks in similar terms:. The other thing I think is actually quite valuable is just leaving books out. So there is books in the kitchen. Or, something else triggers its relevance. You read an article. You start appreciating a point or a question or something. And so, part of the reason I still value physical books is because it creates a kind of idea space for you that makes productive collisions more likely to happen.

Reading a book like a magazine is a powerful metaphor. Instead, we often skim to find the most interesting and relevant articles and then go deep and slow on those. This approach is powerful on a few levels:. Avid reader and famous tech investor and entrepreneur Naval Ravikant has pioneered a reading system that helps him use his shorter attention span to his benefit.

Ravikant noticed that many of the books that had the most value are older source books that form the foundation of other books. He describes the value of these books in a Tim Ferriss podcast episode:. The older the problem, the older the solution. Any book that has been around for 2, years has been filtered by a lot of people.

But Ravikant noticed a challenge with reading these types of books:. So what I did is I came up with this hack where I started treating books as throw away blog posts or as bite-size tweets or Facebook posts. And I felt no obligation to finish any book. Now, any time someone mentions a book to me, I buy it. I feel no obligation whatsoever to finish the book. So all of a sudden books are back into my reading library.

Accelerating access in developing economies will impact the internet experience for users everywhere, as companies like Google, Facebook, Alibaba, and Tencent strive to deliver scalable global products that address the needs and contexts of these new users. The number of unique mobile users around the world is up by more than 4 percent year-on-year, although penetration rates remain below 50 percent across much of Central Africa.

The global number of people using social media has grown by 13 percent in the past 12 months, with Central and Southern Asia recording the fastest gains up 90 percent and 33 percent respectively. Saudi Arabia has posted the fastest individual country growth rate across our 40 focus economies at 32 percent, but India is only just behind, with 31 percent annual growth in social media users.

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On Facebook alone, the number of users aged 65 and above has increased by almost 20 percent in the past 12 months. The number of teenagers using Facebook has also increased, but the number of users aged 13 to 17 has only grown by 5 percent since January Gender ratios remain a concern across the internet though, with the latest data from Facebook suggesting that women are still significantly underrepresented across much of Central Africa, the Middle East, and Southern Asia.

The Philippines keeps its crown For the third year in a row, Filipinos spend the greatest amount of time on social media, with the average user in the country spending almost 4 hours on social every day. WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger both grew twice as fast as the core Facebook platform though, with the number of people using each messenger app up by 30 percent year on year.

In this section we begin by providing an overview of education expenditure around the world, and then turn to the question of how expenditure contributes to the production of education.

Further in-depth information on this topic, including definitions, data sources, historical trends and much more, can be found in our dedicated entry Financing Education. Governments around the world are nowadays widely perceived to be responsible for ensuring the provision of accessible quality education. The following visualization, plotting public expenditure on education as a share of Gross Domestic Product GDP for a number of early-industrialized countries, shows that this expansion took place mainly through public funding. Those countries that pioneered the expansion of primary education in the 19th century — all of which are current OECD member states — relied heavily on public funding to do so.

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Today, public resources still dominate funding for the primary, secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education levels in these countries. While in the last decade the share of public funding for these levels of education has decreased slightly, the broad pattern is remarkably stable. The visualization below presents OECD-average expenditure on education institutions by source of funds. The last two decades have seen a small but general increase in the share of income that countries devote to education.

The following chart plots trends in public expenditure on education as a share of GDP. As usual, a selection of countries is shown by default, but other countries can be added by clicking on the relevant option at the top of the chart. Although the data is highly irregular due to missing observations for many countries, we can still observe a broad upward trend for the majority of countries.

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As incomes — measured by GDP per capita — are generally increasing around the world, this means that the total amount of global resources spent on education is also increasing in absolute terms. The top chart in this figure, corresponding to high income countries, shows a very clear pattern: households contribute the largest share of expenses in tertiary education, and the smallest share in primary education. Roughly speaking, this pattern tends to be progressive, since students from wealthier households are more likely to attend tertiary education, and those individuals who attend tertiary education are likely to perceive large private benefits.

Such distribution of private household contributions to education is regressive. The following visualization presents three scatter plots using data to show the cross-country correlation between i education expenditure as a share of GDP , ii mean years of schooling, and iii mean PISA test scores. At a cross-sectional level, expenditure on education correlates positively with both quantity and quality measures; and not surprisingly, the quality and quantity measures also correlate positively with each-other.

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But correlation does not imply causation: there are many factors that simultaneously affect education spending and outcomes. Indeed, these scatterplots show that despite the broad positive correlation, there is substantial dispersion away from the trend line — in other words, there is substantial variation in outcomes that does not seem to be captured by differences in expenditure. The following visualization presents the relationship between PISA reading outcomes and average education spending per student, splitting the sample of countries by income levels.

It shows that income is an important factor that affects both expenditure on education and education outcomes: we can see that above a certain national income level, the relationship between PISA scores and education expenditure per pupil becomes virtually inexistent. Several studies with more sophisticated econometric models corroborate the fact that expenditure on education does not explain well cross-country differences in learning outcomes.

The fact that expenditure on education does not explain well cross-country differences in learning outcomes is indicative of the intricate nature of the process through which such outcomes are produced.

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This conceptualization highlights that, for any given level of expenditure, the output achieved will depend on the input mix. And consequently, this implies that in order to explain education outcomes, we must rely on information about specific inputs. Available evidence specifically on the importance of school inputs , suggests that learning outcomes may be more sensitive to improvements in the quality of teachers, than to improvements in class sizes. And regarding household inputs , the recent experimental evidence suggests that interventions that increase the benefits of attending school e.

Policy experiments have also shown that pre-school investment in demand-side inputs leads to large positive impacts on education — and other important outcomes later in life. The environment that children are exposed to early in life, plays a crucial role in shaping their abilities, behavior and talents. Education is a valuable investment, both individually and collectively.

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Here we analyse available evidence of the private i. The most common way to measure the private returns to education, is to study how attainment improves individual labor market outcomes — usually by attempting to measure the effect of education on wages. Regarding social returns, the most common approach is to measure the effect of education on pro-social behaviour e. Most of the evidence presented below is 'descriptive', in the sense that it points towards correlations between education and various individuals and social outcomes, without necessarily proving causation.

In each case, we provide a discussion of the robustness of the evidence.

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The OECD's report Education at a Glance provides descriptive evidence of the link between individual education and income. The following chart shows the earnings of tertiary-educated workers, by level of tertiary education, relative to the earnings of workers with upper secondary education. As we can see, in all OECD countries for which information is available, the higher the level of education, the greater the relative earnings. The countries in this chart are ordered in ascending order of relative earnings.

As we can see, the countries with the greatest returns to tertiary education Brazil, Chile and Colombia are also those where tertiary education is less prevalent among the adult population. This is indicative of the demand-and-supply dynamics that contribute to determine wage differentials across different countries.

These figures are simply correlations, and cannot be interpreted causally: individuas with more education are different in many ways to individuals with less education, so we cannot attribute wage differences solely to education choices. The previous graph gave a cross-country comparison of earning by education level.