In 1964, Sears advertised a TV console for $750, writes Mark Perry on Carpe Diem. For an equivalent amount, about $5,500, a consumer today could buy “8 brand-new appliances (refrigerator, freezer, dishwasher, range, washer, dryer, microwave and blender) and buy 9 state-of-the-art electronic items (laptop, GPS, camera, home theater, plasma HDTV, iPod Touch, Blu-ray player, 300-CD changer and a Tivo recorder).” In short, things are a lot cheaper.
This illustrates The Desperate Need for Market Forces in Education, writes Matthew Ladner, guesting on Jay Greene’s blog.
We live, in short, in an age wonders, except of course for areas of the economy heavily managed and financed by the government,” Ladner writes. “In those areas, instead of radically improving products provided at continually lower costs, we tend to see expanded costs for no, little or ambiguous improvements.
From another Perry post, Ladner supplies a chart showing the fall in prices in food, cars, clothing and furniture from 1948 to 2010 as a share of household expenditures. Then he adds a Cato chart showing inflation-adjusted K-12 spending and achievement since 1970 .
Since education is a service, not a thing, it would be fairer to compare it with the cost of other services, though it’s hard to get at the quality issue. We spend a lot more on health care, but we get much more effective medicines and treatments. If anyone has useful data, let me know.