Thursday, August 24, 2017

Biography of Salman Rushdie | A Great English Writer

He left his home country in 1961 to move to the United Kingdom, where he studied at the Cambridge History College. He focused mainly on Muslim religion and history, acquiring theoretical and academic knowledge on which to articulate his political ideology, always linked to the circumstances of his country and other countries in situations similar to his own, which the history of colonization and colonizers overlaps with the indigenous cultural substratum, largely constituted by legends and myths.

With the aim of giving an alternative voice to the history of those countries, reinvented by England, and of its history after decolonization, has written most of his novels. Thus, in Children of Midnight, a work that achieved international fame and for which he was awarded several prizes in the United Kingdom and United States, narrates, through the avatars of an Indian saga, the history of that country from the Proclamation of independence. In his next novel, Shame (1983), instead, debunked the history of Pakistan.

His rebellious voice and implied intellectual, was threatened with death in 1989 because of the publication of the Satanic Verses, a work considered blasphemous by Ayatollah Khomeini, who issued public order of execution to the entire Muslim population of the world.

Since then, Rushdie lives under police protection and in some isolation. His activities as literary critic in the Observer were pursued (although he managed to gather most of his articles in the volume Imaginary homelands). In 1990 he published a children's story, Haroun and the Sea of ​​Stories, the story of a storyteller who loses the desire to narrate, saddened and threatened by the enemies of freedom of expression.

For more about the biography of famous people, keep visiting Biography Desk. Biography is all about the biographies of famous who were well known in their living time period.

A Market for Universities | What Universities Can do for Business Students

At the end of July I participated in the NBER summer days, which this year gathered in Cambridge to more than 2,500 economists presenting and discussing their work in 51 different thematic workshops. Today I wanted to talk to you about the plenary presentation by Caroline Hoxby that I attended (the full video is available here), and it talked about the US university system, specifically about the heterogeneity between institutions in their degree of selectivity and level Of competence that they face, as well as in the level and productivity of the educational resources used. Hoxby is the director of the economics of education at the NBER and professor of economics at Stanford (her TedX talk here).

I was struck by the beginning of her talk, in which she proudly announced that the United States could boast of being the only country in the world where university education can be considered a true market. My first reaction was that in Spain (Europe?) Nobody would think that this is something to be presumed. I think that most people would say without hesitation and in a generic way that we do not want to go to university in Spain is something that should be left to operate according to the laws of the market. (Certainly from universities in Spain we have talked a lot already in the blog, some recent examples here, here and here).

Beyond this, in his talk Hoxby summed up his research on the functioning of universities in the United States. He began by describing the great variation in the system, with one end of the institutions, the most selective, the highly competitive, the mostly privately funded, and the opposite extreme, of non-selective institutions facing a low level of competition. There are currently 7,500 higher education institutions in the USA, of which approximately 1,000 can be considered "selective". Universities have a lot of autonomy (in terms of fees, admissions, hiring, salaries, etc.), and even public ones have quite a lot of autonomy compared to other countries.

The main conclusions of the analysis were the following as the new requirements of business studies as well as the global market.

1.       There is a high correlation between the level of students arriving at university (what Hoxby calls their " college readiness ", which combines skills and preparation, and that measures with SAT scores ) and institution resources To which they attend , correlation that has been increasing during the last 50 years. That is, the best students go to the universities with more means (and the best ones have MANY more resources per student). This correlation is stronger in segments of the system where market forces operate more intensively (the more selective institutions, which "compete" for the best students at the national level).

2.       The productivity of every dollar of educational resources is similar in all institutions that are "subjected to market forces" (and this may be the reason). "Productivity" is defined as the causal increase in income over a lifetime that can be attributed to having attended a particular institution (as you can imagine, measuring it is not an easy task!).

3.       Obviously, some institutions have more resources (and better results) than others, but the productivity (value added) for every dollar employed is similar. In addition, this productivity is lower (and more dispersed) in institutions that are less subject to market forces, and are the fastest expanding at present.

4.       All this implies that students better prepared (“college-ready ") benefit more of each extra dollar of educational resources. And this in turn has important implications for economic growth, and also for income inequality.


More specifically, if the US wanted to reallocate the resources of the university education system to maximize economic growth, the best option would be to increase the resources that are available to students who are better prepared to go to college. Of course, such policies would increase total income, at the cost of increasing inequality, by reducing the resources allocated to the institutions that the worst students attend. So the policy implications are not obvious, and depend on the extent to which we value society as growth versus inequality.

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