Extra Credit (Fall 2007)

Special Topic

Fed Chairman says education is the best investment

Chairman Ben BernankeFed Chairman Ben Bernanke believes that education plays a critical role in keeping the U.S. economy competitive and growing. Speaking in September to the U.S. Chamber Education and Workforce Summit in Washington, D.C., Bernanke said that investments in education are the most important investments society can make. He pointed to studies showing that higher levels of education contribute to greater individual happiness, better health, and increased civic and cultural involvement.

A commitment to lifelong learning, Bernanke said, from early childhood programs to postsecondary education to midcareer training, will help the country face three big challenges: the approaching wave of baby-boom retirements, advancing technology, and an increasingly globalized economy.

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Bernanke speech on "Education and Economic Competitiveness" off-site image

"Education fundamentally supports advances in productivity, upon which our ability to generate continuing improvement in our standard of living depends," Bernanke said. "We must work diligently to maintain the quality of our educational system where it is strong and strive to improve it where it is not.

"In particular, we must find ways to move more of our students, especially minorities and students from disadvantaged backgrounds, into educational opportunities after high school. To do that, we must continually experiment, innovate and evaluate so that we can make rational decisions about what works and what doesn't in education."

By Charles Davidson, staff writer, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta