Data, I often wish, was recorded more thoroughly and comprehensively in the past. It wasn't until after WWII that the government decided to start regularly and consistently start recording various economic data, but the sheer amount of insight and information we could have gotten had we say started recording not just economic data, but other data as well, going back as far as say 1900 would have made us immeasurably better off today.
Regardless, despite the lack of historical data we have, you can already start seeing the empirical evidence of the country slowly collapsing in some time series as short as just 10 years. Specifically in education.
I went to the OECD, much like I do going to my local bar, and knew precisely the data I wanted to get. The OECD is like a spoiled suburbanite princess. She has the money/data you want/need, but to get it takes a tremendous amount of patience to get at it in that they've organized their databases with the efficiency and logic that Obama has reorganized health care. Inevitably, I did find the data I was looking for and it was college majors by subject over time.
I wanted to get this data because I was curious to see, in general, what the trend was in terms of students majoring in something worthwhile vs. majoring with worthless "El Crapo Studies" such as philosophy, art, sociology, etc. Readers of my blog fully well know just how much importance I place on this particular issue, but for those who are new, in short it is engineers, doctors, computer folk and in general the physical science majors that are the ones who produce and make this nation go, and the others are just spoiled brats majoring in a hobby who prefer not to do any real work whilst they live off of mommy and daddy. And looking at the trend between these two general types of majors, one can get an idea of what the future productivity of this nation will be.
The news (of course) is not good;
Though there does not seem to be any rapid increase or decrease, or discernible trend in general, understand this is only 10 years worth of data. Things such as major types, don't change dramatically like say the president's approval ratings (ha ha ha). HOwever if you look at the details, there are trends and if these trends continue over time, it will not bode well for the nation.
First and foremost I took the "sciences." This is all majors in the physical sciences;
Biology, physics, math, etc.
This has gone from 9.2% of all majors to 8.9% of all majors. Not a dramatic, but a general downward trend.
Then there is engineering (engineering was a separate sub category from "science" and includes chemical, electrical, civil, etc. as well as construction). This has sacrificed a full percentage point in the past 10 years going from 7% of all majors to just 6%.
Now there were other minor categories that I did deem "worthwhile" majors that actually result in a graduate who is capable and likely to contribute to society such as accounting, but the amount of time it would take to pull that data from the OECD was not worth it. The larger point is that in general fewer and fewer students are majoring in something that is worth the tuition they (and the taxpayer) are paying for.
I then took a look at the Arts and Humanities. Again a general encompassing topic that covers philosophy majors and sculpture majors, etc., and not only do these worthless majors account for MORE THAN TWICE THE NUMBER OF ENGINEERING MAJORS, their ranks are growing quite rapidly going from 14% of majors in 1998 to over 15.5% now.
But the worst is yet to come. Separately categorized from Arts and Humanities (and is just one major I focused on) was "Social Services." Though a small major with only 1.16% of the total student population, the relative percent majoring in this field shot up by about a third to 1.43% of majors today.
Now I am getting old and I frankly do not have time to put this kindly or politically correct-like. So let me spell it out for you in a very inconsiderate, uncompassionate, my-goodness-he-didn't-take-sensitivity-training-like-we-all-did-back-in-grade-school kind of way;
Young Americans are spoiled rotten. And not only are they spoiled rotten, they've been brought up poorly by their parents and the schools in that when they graduate from high school, they are actually led to believe that they can major in a worthless subject like the arts and humanities and somehow become a contributing members of society. They are not told the realities of the labor market, guidance counselors provide NOTHING in terms of guiding these kids into real studies that will get them real jobs, and when they grow up, not only will we have failed at our job as adults preparing them for the real world, they will;
1. Not be producing members of society
2. Will more likely than not require the dwindling supply of engineering majors to pay for them in one way or another.
3. Will vote NOT for policies that will help boost economic productivity, but instead will vote for the redistribution of what dwindling production there is (because again, we've not only failed at educating them about the basics of the labor market, but have woefully educated them about basic, simple, elementary economics)
Now I'm done with the "don't hurt little Junior's feelings. He wants to become a musician and we parents are going to be supportive of that." BS. People need to wake up and accept the harsh realities of life. Ergo, let me tell you a little story of this Iranian father I knew.
I was semi-dating his daughter. She was majoring in Middle Eastern studies (because apparently she didn't learn enough Farsi or enough about Iranian culture when she LIVED THERE FOR 20 YEARS!). She was complaining about how her "mean" father wouldn't pay her way through college. I said, "Well, why doesn't he pay your way through college?"
She said, "Well he WAS paying my way through when I was majoring in chemistry, but since I switched to Middle Eastern studies he said he wouldn't pay."
Sadly not only she, but most American parents today, don't realize just how much he loved his daughter.
POST POST - Got some requests for more detail on the data, which can be located here. As you can see they do allow you to look it up by country and detail it by "general" major and then a "specific" major. Beyond that I don't know how they threw, say "graphic arts" into one category or the next. Welcome to my world of "How the Hell Did the OECD Categorize This?"