[Marxism] Growth of the productive forces and qualification of labour-power in the United States

Mike Friedman mikedf at mail.amnh.org
Sat Jun 12 16:53:51 MDT 2004


Your figures on educational attainment are for the population as a whole. 
My question would be to what degree does this actually reflect educational 
attainment for the working class. The U.S. has a significant petit 
bourgeois professional layer, as well as the managerial sector belonging to 
the bourgeoisie itself. These could represent 30% of the population and 
skew your statistics. The practical significance is that productivity 
increase there has indeed been, but this is not linked to an increasingly 
educated work-force (rather to rising organic composition). There is a 
growing educational gap between workers, particularly oppressed workers, 
and other sectors. In the current period (maybe the past 25 years) of 
educational cutbacks (when a NY State supreme court judge rules that public 
schools are only required to provide up to an eighth grade education -- 
enough for kids to "fulfill their civic duties"!) and increasing 
privatization in and of public schools, this is obviously the case. When I 
taught (for five years) at Seward Park High School , an urban "factory" 
school, something like 40% of incoming freshman actually graduated. This 
seems to be more the norm for working class folks, at least here in NYC.


>In an interesting article, Scott Baier, Sean Mulholland, Robert Tamura and
>Chad Times called "Income and education in the United States 1840-2000 (Sept
>2003), they estimated the average years of schooling of the American
>population, and calculated a kind of "human capital-coefficient" such that,
>for each additional year of schooling, a 9 percent increase in the value of
>output per worker occurs.
>In 1840, of 6.3 million or so white Americans over 20 years old, the US
>census found that about 9% could not read or write (the literacy or
>illiteracy of black slaves wasn't a concern in those days).  The increase in
>real output per worker between 1840 and 2000 averaged about 1.6 per cent per
>year. Here is the average educational level of the US population they
>estimated, in round figures (with some simple interpolations for missing
>1840 - 1 year schooling
>1850 - 2 years of schooling
>1860  - 3 years of schooling
>1880 - 4 years of schooling
>1890 - 4.5 years of schooling
>1900 - 6 years of schooling
>1910 - 6.5 years of schooling
>1920 - 7 years of schooling
>1930 - 7.5 years of schooling
>1940 - 8 years of schooling
>1950 - 9 years of schooling
>1960 - 10 years of schooling
>1970 - 11 years of schooling
>1980 - 12 years of schooling
>1990 - 12.5 years of schooling
>2000 - 13 years of schooling

More information about the Marxism mailing list