Scott and Donya Bommer Professor of Economics
Stanford University

The Fork in the Road: The Imperative of Investing in Adolescent Education

Caroline Hoxby
Caroline Hoxby

Lecture I: The Fork in the Road: Adolescence, Education, Economic Fatalism, and Populism
Tuesday, April 12, 2022
4:10 p.m. – 6:15 p.m., Toll Room, Alumni House
with commentary by Jan-Werner Müller

Lecture II: Smart Money: Educational Investments in Adolescents Earn Higher Returns
Wednesday, April 13, 2022
4:10 p.m. – 6:15 p.m., Toll Room, Alumni House
with commentary by Erik Hurst and Silvia Bunge

Seminar and Discussion with the commentators
Thursday, April 14, 2020
4:10 p.m. – 6:15 p.m., Toll Room, Alumni House
with commentary by Jan-Werner Müller, Erik Hurst, and Silvia Bunge

The lectures and the seminar are free and open to the public. Please be advised that this event is currently being offered in person and virtually via live stream, though that is subject to change. A link to the live stream will be made available on this page at a later date. To receive further updates about this event, please register above.

About Caroline Hoxby

Caroline Hoxby is the Scott and Donya Bommer Professor of Economics at Stanford University, the Director of the Economics of Education Program at the National Bureau of Economic Research, and a Senior Fellow of the Hoover Institution and the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research. Prior to teaching at Stanford, she served as the Allie S. Freed Professor of Economics at Harvard University from 1994-2007. She received her Ph.D. in Economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1994, an M.Phil. in Economics from the University of Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar in 1990, and her B.A. in Economics at Harvard University in 1988, graduating summa cum laude. Hoxby is also a Principle Investigator of the Expanding College Opportunities project, which has a had dramatic impact on low-income, high-achieving college students, and for which she recently received the Smithsonian Institution’s Ingenuity Award.

About the Lectures

One of the world’s leading scholars in the field of education economics, Hoxby’s lectures will draw upon economics, neuroscience, and education.  In her first lecture, she will show that early adolescence is the point at which most people either join the path towards advanced cognitive skills or not.  Hoxby will argue that, in a highly industrialized economy like that of the United States, it is not unreasonable for people on the non-advanced-cognitive-skills path to exhibit “economic fatalism”—despair at their long-term economic prospects.  This may explain patterns in persons’ susceptibility to populism and political movements that promise to insulate them from the world economy.  In her second lecture, Hoxby will argue that the logical flip side of her argument is that early adolescence is the crucial period for improvements in education.  She will provide rigorous evidence that the returns to successful educational interventions are higher in early adolescence than at other ages.  However, she will also show that much less money is spent on adolescents’ education than on that of younger or older students.  Hoxby will argue that the neglect of adolescent education could have profound consequences, not just on economic outcomes but political and social outcomes, due to a substantial share of the population’s failing to develop advanced cognitive skills.

About the Commentators

Jan-Werner Müller

Professor of Politics
Princeton University

Erik Hurst

V. Duane Rath Professor of Economics
University of Chicago Booth School of Business

Silvia Bunge

Professor, Department of Psychology & Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute
University of California, Berkeley