While the citizens of rising economies like India and China are getting more and more educated, North America is dumbing down.
According to an article in the Economist, high tuition levels prevent 40% of qualified high-school graduates from attending 4-year programs and 22% from attending college at all. This while India has doubled its university student population since the early 90s and China's PhD recipients have jumped from 14,500 in 1998 to 48,700 in 2003 (see article)!
Technology companies like Intel, Microsoft, AMD, and Cisco are investing billions in the Indian economy. Not only is labour cheaper than in America but it is also a highly educated labour force. Instead of whining about the loss of jobs, North Americans need to take education seriously. It starts with the government and translates into, among other things, more investment in universities and student support programs with lower tuition fees and favourable lending policies. Traditionally, many immigrants in North America have been underemployed. This is changing. As their home countries become more competitive and economies take off, many of these people will be returning home or not immigrating to North America in the first place.
The education of the masses is a good thing. It indirectly reduces poverty and the spread of diseases like AIDS. The first world should want rising economies around the world to flourish. From an economic perspective, these economies will be purchasing many of the goods manufactured by first world corporations. Our concern, as the world gets more educated, should be centered on what place our children will occupy in the resulting food chain.