What Do Kids Know?

According to the Journal, when it comes to economics, the answer is: more than you might think. On a test given by the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the scores this year were surprisingly strong:

NAEP reported this week that 79% of twelfth graders passed this first-ever national economics test. Holy Hayek.

The exam, taken by a representative sample of twelfth graders at public and private high schools, tested students on micro- and macroeconomic principles and international trade. What, for example, is the effect of breaking down trade barriers between countries? A majority correctly said that goods would become less expensive. They chose this over “the quality of goods available would decrease.” Maybe John Edwards should hire more teenagers for his Presidential campaign.

The article also mentions that scores on the test have gone up in recent years. This is pure speculation on my part, but is it at all possible that the prevalence and popularity of economists (and amateur economists) in the blogosphere has contributed to this? OK, it’s a long shot, I know. But when a guy like Tyler Cowen gets a glowing profile in New York Magazine, and economists like Steven Levitt put books on the best-seller list, and popular publications like Slate have witty, funny economics columnists like Tim Hartford, well, it seems like practitioners of the dismal science are coming out of the their musty dwellings in bureaucracy and academia and playing a more significant role in public discussion.