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International Socialism, Autumn 1962


David Cairns



From International Socialism, No.10, Autumn 1962, p.31.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


The Economics of Education
John Vaizey
Faber. 21s.

John Vaizey is essentially concerned with the social purposes of education. He is, therefore, very critical of attempts to treat education as an individual expenditure yielding an individual benefit. He discusses very briefly the contribution of economists such as Adam Smith, Marshall and Marx to the economics of education and goes on to pinpoint the economic significance of education by analysing education as consumption and as investment, the ways in which education is financed and the returns to education.

The major significance of this book lies in its emphasis on the necessity of relating educational needs to the socio-economic needs of the community, and since this is done from a broadly socialist standpoint much of what Mr. Vaizey says is very useful. However, this usefulness will perhaps be enjoyed only by the reader who is either an economist on the one hand or who is relatively unversed in the sociology and psychology of education on the other, for Mr. Vaizey mars the value of his work by compiling it in a terribly slapdash manner. Thus some sections art technically complicated, whilst others are almost platitudinous.

Therefore, although presenting an important thesis, Mr. Vaizey has written a book that hardly does justice either to himself or to the subject he discusses. As an introduction to the problem of planning and predicting educational requirements this is a useful work, but the failure to press home the impossibility of adequately adjusting educational provisions to economic needs in capitalist societies is a defect which could only be rectified by a longer and better-planned book.

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