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Center for Economics and the Environment: Policy Series


Between 1970 and 2007, Missouri’s growth in income per capita was 41st in the nation. This dismal outcome is largely a function of its educational system. Its schools have not been competitive, either among the U.S. states or internationally. Lifting the quality of schools will by the historical evidence presented here produce large long-run gains for Missouri’s economy. Even though many youth have in the past migrated to other parts of the country, the strength of the Missouri economy will continue to rest mainly on those current students who will become the backbone of the future labor force. Improving the quality of schools is a difficult task that demands policy attention. Simply increasing funding for schools, one oft-proposed solution, is unlikely to lead to increased academic performance unless more attention is given to how money is spent. The key to improvement lies in the quality of the teachers and leaders in the schools. Salaries and incentives for these personnel have not been directly related to student performance. If improvements are to be realized, existing incentives must be changed.

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Eric A. Hanushek is the Paul and Jean Hanna Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. Prior to the Hoover Institution, he held teaching positions at the U.S. Air Force Academy, Yale University, and the University of Rochester. He has widely published both books and professional journal articles.

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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.