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Friday, August 10, 2007

Economic literacy test: High school seniors beat Congress

Wall Street Journal article on US highschooler's performance on NAEP's economics test:

Pop quiz. Which has been most important in reducing poverty over time: a) taxes, b) economic growth, c) international trade, or d) government regulation?

We know what our readers would say. But lest you think American young people are slouching toward serfdom, you'll be pleased to know that 53% of U.S. high school seniors also answered "b." The latest version of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) asked this question, among others on economics, and the results will not please members of the Socialist International, or for that matter the Senate Finance Committee.

I am sure that our state legislators would also fare poorly, and would be surprised to learn (or would deny) that their vote to raise the state minimum wage was not the answer.

The test also included more technical questions on price floors, opportunity cost, and the supply curve. One question asked what would happen if government mandated a high price floor for chocolate. A plurality deftly analyzed a graph to choose the correct answer: There would be a surplus of chocolate. Presumably the test could have asked about a minimum wage, too, and students would have arrived at a similar conclusion. Maybe Congress should make this test, or one like it, mandatory for all Members.

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