Joshua Gans has a theory that I attract more critics than the average academic. Judging by today’s Age, he may be right. Monash University’s David Zyngier is very cross that I was invited to the 2020 summit, and critiques my school productivity study (with Chris Ryan, who for the third time in a row gets off without a critical mention) for being ‘misleading’. This follows on from an article he wrote in the Australian a few weeks ago. I didn’t respond to it at the time, but perhaps now is the point to respond to one issue. Zyngier wrote:
They say government funding for each pupil has increased from $165 (in today’s dollar terms) in 1964 to $7169 in 2003.
However, the Australian Bureau of Statistics year book for 1964 indicates that the expenditure for each pupil was pound stg. 193 which, translated into 2003 dollars, is $3583.
We didn’t use these precise ABS yearbook estimates for our study, since they weren’t directly comparable to later years. But since our nominal dollar spending figures were $165 for 1963-64 and $178 for 1964-65, this claim piqued my interest. So I asked my research assistant to go to the library and photocopy the page that Zyngier was referring to. Our best guess as to the page he had in mind appears below.
The 1964-65 figure is $193.86. One possibility is that this is a coincidence. Another is that Zyngier has confused dollars with pounds.