Friday, February 16, 2007

On the Origins of the Underachievement of Nations (and Individuals)

Two items.

First item: Economics Nobel Laureate Edmund Phelps in the Wall Street Journal
The values that might impact dynamism are of special interest here. Relatively few in the Big Three report that they want jobs offering opportunities for achievement (42% in France and 54% in Italy, versus an average of 73% in Canada and the U.S.); chances for initiative in the job (38% in France and 47% in Italy, as against an average of 53% in Canada and the U.S.), and even interesting work (59% in France and Italy, versus an average of 71.5% in Canada and the U.K). Relatively few are keen on taking responsibility, or freedom (57% in Germany and 58% in France as against 61% in the U.S. and 65% in Canada), and relatively few are happy about taking orders (Italy 1.03, of a possible 3.0, and Germany 1.13, as against 1.34 in Canada and 1.47 in the U.S.).
Lastly, there a strain of anti-commercialism. "A German would rather say he had inherited his fortune than say he made it himself," the economist Hans-Werner Sinn once remarked to me.
Second item: Tyler Cowen on how to praise your kids
It turns out you should praise them for their effort, not their intelligence. If you praise kids for their intelligence, they tend to avoid tasks they fear they will fail at.


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