Thursday, May 17, 2007

Universities... Iraq Style

War has many consequences, few of them good. Here is a news story about universities in Iraq as a result of the US invasion. Apparently being a university professor is a dangerous occupation, and worthy of being specifically targeted by the insurgents.

But this is not just a story about university professors. Stepping back, universities play a vital role in developing human capital. The long term economic costs of the invasion of Iraq, even IF it ends peacefully, depends most strongly on how much human capital has dissipated in the interim.

The loss of human capital may be far worse than death and injury statistics suggest. Where professionals are forced to stay "... at home almost 24 hours a day, seven days a week," in order to increase their likelihood of survival, their human capital is slowly deteriorating, through disuse. It's an example of hysteresis.

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