The ASI is hiring paid gap year employees

The Adam Smith Institute is looking to hire two 18-19 year olds in between A-levels and university as paid gap year employees, working with the think tank on organising events, putting out publications, managing our database, handling merchandise, and running the office.

The role is open to applicants of all political stripes (lively debate is welcomed), and they need have no specific experience. It is, however, crucial that the candidate is open-minded, inquisitive, friendly, eager to learn and curious about politics and think-tanking.

The specific duties will be split evenly across the two successful applicants, and will include:

☻Organising lunches and dinners
☻Keeping a database up to date
☻Selling ASI merchandise
☻Doing secretarial work for the directors
☻Setting up and cleaning up events
☻Mailing publications out to subscribers
☻Logging RSVPs for events
☻Supporting donor relations
☻Meeting a wide range of interesting & important people
☻Learning about social & political science
☻Socialising with the staff
☻Carrying out self-directed research
☻Writing blog posts

Previous interns have gone on to work with the Adam Smith Institute, including the ASI’s current Research Director, Sam Bowman, and Head of Digital Policy, Charlotte Bowyer, who was a Gap Year intern in 2009-10.

The role will pay £700-1000/month (depending on experience), and is strictly limited to students on a gap year. It will last 2-9 months, starting from late October. All applicants will interview with President Madsen Pirie and Research Director Sam Bowman at the Adam Smith Institute offices in Westminster in mid-October and successful applicants will start from late October.

Please send a CV and cover letter of around 500 words to by 13th October

Trying to explain the American academic jobs market

Something’s clearly not right about the academic jobs market in the US. The actual process of applying for a job seems to take forever and as one of the more recent Nobel Prizes pointed out such search frictions and inefficiencies do prevent markets from clearing. This is, you know, a bad thing.

Further, we’ve got the fact that American academia is pumping out huge numbers of Ph.Ds who then can’t find jobs as tenured professors: but also can’t find them elsewhere in the economy as the only thing they’ve really been trained to do is to try and become tenured professors. They thus end up trying to survive on less than minimum wage as adjunct professors.

So this isn’t what we might want to hold up as an example of a successful part of the jobs market. But the question then becomes, well, why is it like this? What’s gone wrong?

One possible answer being that this is what happens when you let the left wingers try to run a market. It’s not actually much of a surprise to anyone, or at least it shouldn’t be, that the US professoriate runs largely leftish. 90% to 10 D to R is the usual number bandied about. It also wouldn’t be a surprise to find out that those who do the academic administration tend further left than that: there does have to be an explanation for the various diversity policies around the place.

The end result being extraordinarily strong union protections (that tenure means that, roughly, absent raping the Dean in his office no professor can get fired), vast overtraining of would be market entrants and the majority not actually being able, they being excluded from those union protections, to gain a living. Oh, and the end product becoming ever more expensive as the providers layer themselves with ever more orgies of bureaucracy.

Sounds just wonderful really: or perhaps we might want to use it as a warning. This probably isn’t the way that we want the entire jobs market to work so let’s not attempt to add more of those job protections, unionisation and so on.



So the State schools can’t manage to teach the kiddies to read then, eh?

So here’s a little fining that adds to the shine of our glorious state. Despite the fact that we spend some 5% of all of the value created in the country on education each year that glorious state school system can’t actually manage to teach the kiddies to read:

The fear that 1.5 million British children will reach the age of 11 unable to “read well” by 2025 has prompted the launch on Monday of a new campaign backed by a coalition of businesses, charities, bestselling authors and teaching professionals.

The Read On. Get On campaign is aimed at making a radical improvement in reading standards one of the central goals of politics and education in the next decade. It is being spearheaded by Save the Children, the CBI and the Teach First charity and is unusual in the diversity of its supporters – they include authors JK Rowling and Michael Morpurgo plus a host of book publishers, the Sun newspaper and the Premier League.

One aim is to get the main political parties to include in their 2015 manifestos a commitment to improving the reading of the most disadvantaged.

So let’s attempt to draft something for the manifesto of any party that wishes to pick it up shall we?

How about: “Schools that do not manage to teach children to read within a year of that child’s entry to that school will be closed and all of the teachers fired”?

Or perhaps “Schools will teach children the value of self-structured play after they have taught them to read”?

Possibly even: “No teacher will receive a teaching qualification until they have demonstrated that they can teach a 5 year old to read”? With the obvious proviso that all of those who currently have a teaching cert must prove this over the next school holiday?

Something needs to be done after all: that education system does get 5% of everything and the State does claim a rightful monopoly on education (sure, they let a few slip away but they still claim that they should be educating everyone). So why on earth are we letting them get away with not performing their most basic duty?

After all, the Church schools of more than a century ago managed it, why can’t “highly trained well resourced professionals” manage it? Education systems in other countries, many of which get considerably less money, also manage it.

Could it, possibly, just maybe, be because the current school system just isn’t very well run?

Explaining the success of the Finnish education system

It’s a standard enough trope: the Finnish education system does very well so our education system should be just like the Finnish one. Meaning comprehensives for all and put the private education system to death. That is, of course, attractive to those who have been arguing for decades that we should put the private sector education system to death and have comprehensives for all.

There’s an interesting new paper arguing that it really might not be all that simple:

Finland has been noted to perform consistently very well in the international PISA assessments for many years, but it also has a relatively low per capita number of Nobel Prize winners. We draw upon a large body of proxy data and direct evidence, including the first ever use of RTs to calculate the Finnish IQ and the first ever use of the WAIS IV and PISA scores in the same capacity. Based on these data, we hypothesize that Finns perform so consistently well in PISA because they have a higher IQ overall than other European countries and exhibit a specialized slow life history strategy characterized by high Agreeableness and Conscientiousness, and low Psychoticism and Extraversion. Most of these traits predict educational success but all would suppress genius and creativity amongst this population.

If Finnish children are both brighter than those in other countries and also the culture itself supports conscientious hard work then yes, we might well think that that has an impact upon the success of the education system.

Increasing access to private education will add billions to growth

  • The UK’s average annual growth rate between 1960 and 2007 would have been almost 1 percentage point higher had it matched the Netherlands’ long-term level of independent school enrolment since 1960. This in turn means that UK GDP per capita would have been over £5,800 higher in 2007 than it was.
  • Better education boosts economic growth; improving students’ international test scores by 10% raises a country’s average annual growth rate by 0.85 percentage points.
  • UK GDP per capita would have been almost £5,300 higher in 2007 had it performed as well as Taiwan since the mid-twentieth century.

Britain could add billions of pounds to long-term economic growth if it increased access to private education, a new report released today (Tuesday July 29th) by the free-market Adam Smith Institute has found.

The report, “Incentive to Invest: How education affects economic growth”, illustrates how higher educational achievement boosts long-term economic growth, and the important role of private schooling in this process.

Through the use of existing research and new quantitative evidence, the author of the report, Gabriel Heller Sahlgren, establishes that test scores are closely related to growth. Lifting achievement by 10% hikes a country’s average annual growth by 0.85 percentage points.

Furthermore, the report illustrates how competition from independent schools has proven successful in generating higher international test scores, while also driving costs down. Sending 20 percentage points more 15 year olds to independent schools would raise growth by 0.4pp—or about a sixth—via its positive effect on educational achievement.

Based on his findings, Heller Sahlgren calls for the government to radically reform education policy by encouraging more privatisation and competition in the education sector.

Had the UK matched the Netherlands’ long-term level of independent school enrolment since 1960, its GDP per capita would be over £5,800 higher today, the report argues. At a time when policymakers are trying to cement and broaden the economic recovery, the report suggests that expansion of access to private schooling would be an attractive component of a long-term growth strategy.

Commenting on the report, its author Gabriel Heller Sahlgren said:

My research shows that a focus on increasing the number of pupils taking higher qualifications is misguided. There’s in fact no robust impact of average schooling years in the population on economic growth on average.

On the other hand, education quality, proxied by international test scores, has a consistent and strong effect on growth. According to my calculations, the UK’s real GDP per capita in 2007 would have been over £5,000 higher had we performed on par with Taiwan since the mid-20th century. So the dividend of improving children’s attainment is large indeed.

Yet there are different ways to do achieve this. Unlike expensive resource-driven education reforms, which are rarely cost effective, a good option is to raise the level of independent school competition, which other research shows both increases international test scores as well as decreases costs.

According to my calculations, the indirect economic benefit, via higher achievement, of increasing the number of pupils in independent schools to the Netherlands’ level would be a 0.92 percentage point higher long run GDP per capita growth rate. The government should therefore continue their market-based reforms on education and expand choice as widely as possible.

Sam Bowman, Research Director of the Institute, said:

This report shows that we need greater access to private schooling for all pupils regardless of background, not just to improve the welfare of the children themselves but to boost the UK’s overall standard of living and long-term economic growth.

Expanded access to private education through school vouchers and a revival of the assisted places scheme may be an easy, low cost way for the government to boost growth by improving the human capital of British workers. The results may take some time to materialize but studies like this show just how valuable a long-term strategy for expanding access to private schools could be.

Click here to read “Incentive to Invest: How education affects economic growth”.

For further comments or to arrange an interview, contact Kate Andrews, Communications Manager, at / 07584 778207.