Is education a golden ticket to a comfortable life?

facebookphotoeditor_1422732272Our professor of the course ‘Comparative education’ has recently pointed out that the majority of us start our assignments with the similar idea on the role of knowledge accumulation  in the era of globalization for an individual, society and the country, thus inadvertently viewing the topic through the prism of a particular theory. Therefore, I have decided not to take my pervasive automatic phrase ‘Kazakhstan, have recognized the importance of intellectual capital in a globalised economy…’ for granted and this time to questiont to what extent an intellectual capital is a golden ticket to a comfortable life for an individual.

The universally dissimilating idea that there is a direct correlation between country’s prosperity and investment in education is premised on the theory of the human capital, which proceeds from the woks of the eighteen century economist and philosopher Adam Smith (Phillips & Chweisfurth, 2014). Extensive body of literature suggests that at the aggregate level countries with a large proportion of skilled, motivated and knowledgeable candidates generate more income (Dension, 1962; Schultz, 1989). For an individual, investment in the education secures high- paying jobs and consequently brings happiness, sense of security, favorable comments from relatives during family gatherings and etc. The alluring promises of the theory motivates us hide in the libraries. However, are there any impediments to be aware of before starting the journey towards the success?

Employers don not like ‘overeducated’!

While the extensive body of literature unveils direct correlation between salary and education, there are some constraints to individuals who become ‘overeducated’, meaning that they have more schooling required for a job. ‘Over-education’ is often perceived as a sign of high ambitions to climb up the career ladder and greater occupational mobility, thus ‘the experience of overeducated workers is shown to be rewarded at the lower rates than the experience of undereducated workers’ (Rubb, 2006, p. 18). Employers tend to select undereducated workers (with less schooling for the position) as they have greater learning potential and consequently invest in their further development. 

High salary vs. large family

Societies with limited human capital tend to have large families and invest little in each member. According to Becker et al. (1990), the countries with rapid accumulation of human capital experience declines in the birth rates and family size.  As a result, married women motivated by high wages prefer to spend more of their time at work and free to decide who or when to marry (whether at all).

What is freedom?

While people are freed from some constraints associated with rigid class expectations and given opportunities to express their individuality, they actually experience a greater dependency on educational institutions, employment and consumer markets. Beck (2006) believes that individualization is not a choice of an individual, it is a new ethic of ‘duty to oneself ’which is imposed on him/her (p. 149). Self –liberation movement has an ability to change even deep rooted beliefs about family, ways of behavior and value orientation. People start searching for the activities which in their opinion will fulfill them. It could be travelling packages, yoga lessons or psychologist consultations. It becomes easier for political and religious organization to promote ideas and new ethics of marketplace becomes pre-imminent.

The increasing incentives to invest in the human capital are intriguing, however it is important to look at the other side of the coin to make wise decisions in future.


Beck, U. & Beck-Gernsheim, E. (2006). Beyond Status and Class?. In H. Lauder, P. Brown, & J. H. Dillaborough, Education, Globalisation and Social Change (pp. 91-100). Hampshire: Oxford University Press.

Becker, G., Murphy, K., & Tamura, R. (1990). Human Capital, Fertility, and Economic Growth. The Journal of Political Economy , S12-S37.

Denison, E. (1962). The sources of economic growth in the United States. New York: Committee for Economic Development.

Phillips, D., & Chweisfurth, M. (2014). Comparative and international education:an introduction to theory, method, and practice. Edinburgh: A&C Black.

Rubb, S. (2006). Educational Mismatches and Earnings: Extensions of Occupational Mobility Theory and Evidence of Human Capital Depreciation. Education Economics, 14:2 , 135-154.

Schultz, T.W. (1989). Investment in people: Schooling in low income countries. Economics of Education Review, 8(3), 219-223

1 thought on “Is education a golden ticket to a comfortable life?

  1. Recently, there was a hot discussion about the need of education in my family.My husband stated that we need to invest in educatio of our children as much as possible, whereas I was totally against it. The reason is that I am one of the individuals that believe that education is a “free” ticket to success. I have ever paid for gaining knowledge, therefore I believe that the person should be looking for opportunities to gain the knwoledge, rather than paying for degrees. What are your thoughts about it? Is education a lottery ticket, or the train ticket? Thanks in advance!


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