Horowitz: Broadening Opportunity Pays Off for Our Economy
Tuesday, February 13, 2018
The study examines the lives of more than one million inventors in the United States to determine who becomes one and why. According to the study “Children from high income families are ten times more likely to become inventors than children from low income families.” These stark disparities are not mainly a result of potential for math and science excellence as measured by third grade test scores. While it is the case that excelling in math and science is a significant factor in whom among children from high income families will go on to be an inventor, children from low income families with high potential to excel in math and science are still highly unlikely to become inventors.
The study’s most optimistic finding is that by simply providing low income students more exposure to successful inventors and the possibility of becoming one through school programs and in other ways a good part of this gap can close. As the study authors assert, “Children who grow up in areas with more inventors – and are thereby more exposed to innovation while growing up – are much more likely to become inventors themselves.” This is the case after controlling for other factors such as family income. Right now, children from low income families have far less exposure to inventors in their own families, neighborhoods, and schools than children from high income families.
Similarly, the study finds that if young women were exposed more regularly to successful women inventors the still considerable gap between the number of men and the number of women who become inventors would be cut in half.
Giving a broader range of youth exposure to successful inventors would provide a large economic boost, say the study’s authors.” If women, minorities, and children from low-income families were to invent at the same rate as white men from high-income (top 20%) families, the rate of innovation in America would quadruple.”
Given the outsized importance of innovation to generating economic growth, it is time to use our schools and after-school programs to introduce a broader range of our youth to inventors-- with a special emphasis on low-income youth-- and to do so systematically.
The potential pay-off both in the realization of individual potential and in broader economic benefits is enormous.
Rob Horowitz is a strategic and communications consultant who provides general consulting, public relations, direct mail services and polling for national and state issue organizations, various non-profits and elected officials and candidates. He is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the University of Rhode Island.
Related Slideshow: GoLocal: Benchmark Poll, October 2017
Next year, in November of 2018, there will be a statewide general election for Governor and many other state offices. How likely is it that you will vote in this election?
Will you definitely be voting, will you probably be voting, are you 50-50...
Definitely be voting: 78%
Probably be voting: 13%
What would you say is the number one problem facing Rhode Island that you would like the Governor to address?
Jobs and economy: 21%
State budget: 9%
Corruption/Public integrity: .8%
Don’t know: .9%
Recently, a proposal has been made to permit the issuance of $81 million in bonds by the State to build a new stadium for the Pawtucket Red Sox. If there was an election today on this issue, would you vote to approve or reject issuing $81 million in financing supported moral obligation bonds to build the stadium?
Net: Approve: 28%
Definitely approve: 15%
Probably approve: 14%
Net: Reject: 67%
Probably reject: 19%
Definitely reject: 48%
Don't know: 4%
The next question is about the total income of YOUR HOUSEHOLD for the PAST 12 MONTHS. Please include your income PLUS the income of all members living in your household (including cohabiting partners and armed forces members living at home).
$50,000 or less: 27%
More $50,000 but less than $75,000: 13%
More $75,000 but less than $100,000: 13%
More $100,000 but less than $150,000: 17%
$150,000 or more: 13%
Don't know/refused: 17%
What particular ethnic group or nationality - such as English, French, Italian, Irish, Latino, Jewish, African American, and so forth - do you consider yourself a part of or feel closest to?
Black or African American: 6%
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