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Melanchthon:
cultural preference for non-technical, non-manual jobs is an important factor

But, supposedly, Germany has strength in that area: ie it better trains highly-skilled technical-manual operatives. It's one of the reasons often given to explain why Germany exports (by those who tend to deny competitive deflation by wage depression).

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jan 25th, 2011 at 12:31:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Is not what is reported on Germany same as is reported in the rest of the west, in effect that the young avoid the math-heavy subjects?

If that is true (and not just an attempt to avoid paying the salaries that would attract the young to math-haevy subjects), an interesting question is why. Perhaps it is not the immorality of youth, but a rational response to a society that is de-industrialising?

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Wed Jan 26th, 2011 at 07:35:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It may be a rational response to the recent Western reality for some of the high paying jobs. Electrical engineering, one of the more difficult subjects, gives you a degree where you're qualified to relocate to the Far East. An MD and about 40 years of slave labor will allow you to pay off your school loans. Law degree, possibly never.

Meanwhile, real estate developers, financial hucksters, and religious zealots are able to bring in the bucks.

by asdf on Wed Jan 26th, 2011 at 07:58:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
asdf: Electrical engineering, one of the more difficult subjects, gives you a degree where you're qualified to your job will relocate to the Far East.

(Fixed it for you)

by Bernard on Wed Jan 26th, 2011 at 03:49:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A lot of factors to take into account there.  Electrical engineering is applicable to a lot of different jobs, as I recall.  Governments are always looking for them, and the pay/benefits are decent.  A lot of private companies had openings for them even when I was job-hunting before the move to DC (when the job market was pretty shitty).

In fact, of the three, I think I might take the electrical engineering degree, given the choice.  No chance of the big payouts down the road, but a lot less chance of financial disaster.

MD -- depends on the field, but, yeah, I agree it's generally not nearly as lucrative as the public perceives it.  But salaries differ enormously by your area of expertise.  You'll probably struggle as a pediatrician, but you'll probably do pretty well as an open-heart surgeon.

Law -- forget it.  It's not worth it anymore.  People bought the idea that a law degree was a ticket to the good life, but unless you're coming out of a prestigious school with a lot of connections to the big boys you're not going to do very well for quite a while.

Real estate is the only one where I'd disagree strongly.  At least in the US, the developers have lost their asses since the bubble burst.  That ship has sailed.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Thu Jan 27th, 2011 at 12:43:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually, people who can do math are pretty well remunerated in the post-industrial society.

I don't actually believe that young people are avoiding math-heavy subjects to the extent that is usually presumed. It may well simply be that a larger share of youths obtain higher education, and that of the additional "market share" a smaller fraction obtain math-heavy degrees. That would reduce the average as measured against those who obtain higher education, without reduction in the average as measured against the whole population.

This is at least plausible, because the math-heavy subjects have always been associated with academia, whereas many disciplines that used to involve a large degree of vocational (and therefore undocumented) training have recently become associated (more or less nominally, more or less voluntarily) with academic degrees. Whether this development is A Good Thing or not is another story...

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Jan 26th, 2011 at 02:27:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
JakeS:
I don't actually believe that young people are avoiding math-heavy subjects to the extent that is usually presumed.

Thinking about it, I have to agree. As far as I know, the last 20 years Sweden has got many more math-heavy educations, with more students. So it is probably a false, yet common, idea.

JakeS:

It may well simply be that a larger share of youths obtain higher education, and that of the additional "market share" a smaller fraction obtain math-heavy degrees. That would reduce the average as measured against those who obtain higher education, without reduction in the average as measured against the whole population.

That may be it, but looking at my alma mater the last 20 years, I think the percentage of math-heavy students has increased.

I wonder where this idea comes from? The laziness of youth (as always, see Socrates)? The asians are winning because they are morally superior (industrial policy and lack of colonial forces to steal their stuff having nothing to do with it)? An even greater percentage is needed, and the way to get government to increase training is to claim a shift in attitudes?

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Thu Jan 27th, 2011 at 11:55:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think the idea comes from the fact that the proficiency of the best math students in secondary education has declined. This is, to the best of my knowledge, indisputable.

There are various reasons for that. Less ambitious curricula; the transition of secondary education from an elite to a mass institution; deterioration of math proficiency of (the best) primary school graduates (which again has a variety of causes); greater uptake in tertiary education forcing institutions of higher education to recruit beyond the very best; and so on. Much can and has been written about the relative importance (and, for that matter, the existence) of these effects. But from the point of view of the institutions of higher education, it boils down to an impression that since the young people they see are less proficient at math, it must mean that young people in general are less proficient at math.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Jan 27th, 2011 at 07:01:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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