The Role of the Service Sector in Brazil, Mexico and the USA
Chapter 8: Education
INTRODUCTION Education is the largest non-market service sector in Brazil, Mexico and the USA. The important role of education stems from its fidfilment of at least five societal goals (Maddison, 1995a). Firstly, the accumulation of knowledge yields satisfaction throughout life and as such education is a means of personal development. Secondly, education is considered important to promote social continuity and cohesion. In the USA, and to a lesser extent in Brazil and Mexico, education has been used to build a homogeneous society from an immigrant population. However, after the education system has reached a certain level of development, education is no longer a source of cohesion, but a force producing unpredictable social change. Thirdly, free access to all levels of education promotes social mobility. Fourthly, education produces a greater equality of earnings, as the share of educated people increases and that of the less-educated decreases. This decreases the relative wages of the well-educated and increases the wages of the uneducated. Finally, education raises worker productivity and earnings.' Empirical research has confmed the positive contribution of education to economic growth in Brazil, Mexico and the USA.2 Investment in human capital occurs largely through the educational system, although other forms of learning also exist, such as training on the job. This chapter focuses on the educational system. In Mexico and the USA education is compulsory from the age of 6 and from 7 in Brazil. School attendance is obligatory until the age of 14 in Brazil and Mexico and 16 in the...
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