The untapped potential of education in the battle against climate change

Expanding general education should be added to the menu of approaches considered in tackling climate change

Addressing climate change requires individual behavior change and voter support for pro-climate policies, yet surprisingly little is known about how to achieve these outcomes.  Despite the urgency and scale of the challenge, current efforts are underwhelming, in part because sizable populations around the globe remain skeptical about climate change and policies to tackle it. One promising approach is the accumulation of human capital through increased educational attainment. More educated individuals may be better equipped to understand the complexities of climate science and have more awareness of the risks of climate change.  A recent global survey found that people with more education were more likely to see climate change as a major threat. More education might also yield transferable skills across occupations, encouraging voting for policies that promote less-polluting industries, such as renewable energy subsidies… Headline results show that an additional year of education leads to an increase of 4.0 percentage points (PP) in pro-climate beliefs, 5.8 PP in behaviors, 1.0 PP in policy preferences, and 3.6 PP in green voting. 

The Importance of Financial Education for the Effective Use of Formal Financial Services | This paper examines global data on unbanked and underbanked consumers to highlight the role that improved financial literacy and capability could play in motivating and enabling the safe and beneficial use of financial services. The paper uses data from Global Findex, a demand-side survey on ownership and use of accounts at formal financial institutions. The paper reviews the self-reported barriers to account ownership and use cited by unbanked adults, and identifies the challenges faced by account owners who could not use an account without help. Together, these issues point to the importance of financial education to improve digital and financial literacy skills, in addition to product design that considers customer abilities, and strong consumer safeguards to ensure that customers benefit from financial access.

Many kids are struggling in school. Do their parents know? | Most parents believe their children are performing at grade level. But evidence suggests that half of all students started this school year behind grade level in at least one subject. Learning loss is real.

Human Capital and Climate Change | IZA DP No. 15991 | Addressing climate change requires individual behavior change and voter support for pro-climate policies, yet surprisingly little is known about how to achieve these outcomes. In this paper, we estimate causal effects of additional education on pro-climate outcomes using new compulsory schooling law data across 16 European countries. We analyze effects on pro-climate beliefs, behaviors, policy preferences, and novel data on voting for green parties – a particularly consequential outcome to combat climate change. Results show a year of education increases pro-climate beliefs, behaviors, most policy preferences, and green voting, with voting gains equivalent to a substantial 35% increase.

Returns to Education Turns 50 | March 29, 2023 | 8:30AM-1:15PM EDT

2023 marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of the book, Returns to Education: An International Comparison by George Psacharopoulos, the renowned economist and former World Bank staffer. This event recognizes this milestone and reassesses the progress in measuring the benefits of education. The conference will include panels to discuss the concept of the returns to education and the influence of Psacharopoulos, along with a panel on the latest evidence on the returns to education. #ReturnsToEducation50