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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
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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?

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by A swedish kind of death on Thu Jan 27th, 2011 at 11:55:18 AM EST
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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
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