Main Content

Brookings Institution Press 2013

Endangering Prosperity: A Global View of the American School by Eric A. Hanushek, Paul E. Peterson and Ludger Woessmann

Image Endangering Prosperity: A Global View of the American School by Eric A. Hanushek, Paul E. Peterson and Ludger Woessmann

In their book “Endangering Prosperity – A Global View of the American School” Ifo researcher Ludger Wößmann together with Ifo research professor Eric Hanushek of Stanford University and Paul Peterson of Harvard University, show that poor levels of educational achievement endanger future prosperity. They analyse the disappointing performance of most US federal states by international comparison. Based on this analysis, they show the enormous potential for the US economy that lies in improving educational achievement in the US school system.

According to Eric Hanushek, America’s leading education economist: “The relative deficiencies of U.S. public schools are a serious concern to parents and policymakers. But they should be of concern to all Americans, as a globalizing world introduces new competition for talent, markets, capital, and opportunity.”

In his foreword to the book the former US finance minister and President of Harvard University, Lawrence H. Summers, writes: “Demonstration that levels of achievement, which seem inconceivable to many American educators, are regularly reached in other parts of the world should and can be a powerful spur to improvement to American education. That is why this book is so important.”

In terms of the share of students that reach a “competent” level in mathematics, the USA, for example, ranks only 32nd. Even the most favoured group of students with parents who have a college degree does not perform much better than the average. In the words of Harvard expert Peterson: “If we could lift US achievements to the level of those in Canada, it would mean a 20 percent increase in average wages for each year for the rest of the century.”

Ludger Wößmann, Director of the Ifo Center for the Economics of Education and Innovation, adds: “Poor levels of educational achievement are also endangering prosperity in Germany.” That is why the slight progress made by Germany since the shocking results of the first PISA test is so important. Germany, however, is still a long way from reaching the summit of international achievement.

The former US foreign minister George P. Shultz praised the book with the following words: “America faces many pressures ranging from achieving long-run fiscal balance to maintaining our strong national security. As Hanushek, Peterson, and Woessmann persuasively show, these pressures could be dramatically lessened by improving our schools.”

The book, which brings the results of the NAEP national US tests together with those of the international PISA study, was presented to the public by its three authors at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

Publication details

Endangering Prosperity: A Global View of the American School
by Eric A. Hanushek, Paul E. Peterson and Ludger Woessmann
Length: 125 pages
Publisher: Brookings Institution Press, 2013
ISBN-13: 978-0-8157-0373-0
Also available as an Ebook
E-ISBN: 978-0-8157-2271-7


Short URL: www.ifo.de/w/uZmefWeM