From David Leonhardt at NYTimes.com
[In last night's State of the Union address] President Obama [claimed] that American workers are the most productive in the world. …Recall also our previous post about Norway as the socialist home of entepreneurialism.
[The] best measure of productivity is probably output per hour … By that measure, our own Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the United States trails at least two other countries, Norway and Ireland.
Norway and Ireland have something else in common. A decade and a half ago, they both trailed the United States in education attainment. In the United States, 33 percent of young adults in 1995 received a four-year college degree in the mid-1990s, compared with 26 percent in Norway and 30 percent or less in Ireland. …
Since the mid 1990s, though, Norway and Ireland have passed us. By 2008, the United States had increased its college graduation rate to merely 37 percent, while Norway was at 41 percent and Ireland at 46 percent.