Sunday, January 19, 2014

Misleading economic impact study and other assorted links

1. An interesting Marginal Revolution post on tennis wagering.

2. Lies, damn lies, and economic impact studies

The S.C. Sea Grant Consortium generated $8.9 million in economic impact in South Carolina in 2012, and $11.5 million in the tri-state region, according to a Sea Grant-funded study completed by the University of South Carolina Darla Moore School of Business.
In addition, the study notes that every $1 the state invested to support the consortium and its coastal and ocean research, education and outreach activities generated $26 in statewide economic output.
The actual economic impact figure they report may or may not be accurate.  But the statement about the state funding is downright misleading.  You see this with universities and other entities often.  So often, in fact, that Siegfried et al.'s published review on economic impact studies discussed it here:
Regarding presentation, studies of public universities should stop claiming “For every $1 the state legislature spends, the university returns $X dollars to the state…” At best such statements are meaningless. At worst, they may delude decision-makers into thinking (incorrectly) that the marginal return on investment in higher education is several orders of magnitude more than returns on other public investments. If the returns to higher education were as high as these statements imply, states and the private sector would be building universities frantically.

3.Senator Mike Lee (Utah) writes about the higher education system.

Under the federal Higher Education Act, students are eligible for Title IV student loans and grants only if they attend formally accredited institutions. That makes some sense, for purposes of quality control. Except that under the law, only degree-issuing academic institutions are allowed to be accredited. And only the U.S. Department of Education gets to say who can be an accreditor.
That is, the federal government today operates a kind of higher-education cartel, with federally approved accreditors using their gatekeeper power to keep out unwanted competition.

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