Bocconi Lecture: The Future of Education


Caroline Hoxby, one of the world’s leading scholars of the economics of education, is the speaker of the second Bocconi Lecture (May 19, 6 p.m., Aula Magna via Gobbi 5), a series which honours the memory of Ferdinando Bocconi, the founder of Università Bocconi and a pioneer in both business and higher education, hosting a scholar in economics and the social sciences, who has proven to be a pioneer in his/her field.

Last year’s speaker, Esther Duflo, entered The 2011 Time 100, the list of the 100 most influential people in the world.

Hoxby, who is Scott and Donya Bommer professor of Economics at Stanford University, director of the Economics of Education Program at the National Bureau of Economic Research, and a senior fellow of the Hoover Institution, will deliver a speech about The Future of Education: Experiences Compared.

When investing in primary and secondary education, society faces four major problems. First, it must choose how much investment in human capital the state should facilitate for each person in order to maximize social welfare. Second, it ensures that schools are x-efficient – that is, that they use resources efficiently to produce human capital. Third, society must facilitate studentschool matching or horizontal allocative efficiency. That is, society must ensure that students attend the schools that are the most efficient providers of the education for which they are best suited. Fourth, some students impose externalities on others who share a school with them. Society may wish to “protect” some of these students in the sense of ensuring that they have the same educational opportunities they would have if they did not generate externalities.

Recognizing that laissez-faire markets may deal with these problems poorly, many commentators have jumped to the conclusion that non-market solutions are warranted.

In this lecture, Hoxby argues that markets, when organized appropriately, generate a great deal of information that can solve the key problems in education investment. She combines theory and empirical evidence to show how markets, properly designed, generate superior remedies to those usually employed – including mandates, uniform provision, quotas, and policies controlled by experts.

The speech will be discussed by Bocconi’s Mario Monti, Guido Tabellini, Maristella Botticini and Roberto Perotti, aside from Piergaetano Marchetti (Fondazione Corriere della Sera), Daniele Checchi (Università degli Studi di Milano), Andrea Gavosto (Fondazione G. Agnelli), Paola Mastrocola (scrittrice e professoressa di scuola superiore), Marco Rossi Doria (Progetto Chance).

by Fabio Todesco


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