Program

Regaining America's Competitive Edge

CONTEXT

May 10, 2012

There is no doubt that America is still the world’s economic powerhouse, but the gap between it and its competitors is closing. And in some cases it’s closing fast. Once a virtually uncontested manufacturing and high-tech leader, the US now faces stiff international competition for markets, innovation, and talent. Analysts may agree on America’s past and current status, but there is disagreement over future prospects with some believing that the US has lost its competitive edge and that decline is all but inevitable. So whether you see the US as a nearly invulnerable economic super power or one that has begun a downward spiral exacerbated by the rise of the rest, all would agree that there is no room for complacency in an increasingly competitive world. So what are the areas of weakness that must be addressed? What does the US need to do to rekindle its competitive spirit and respond to the many challenges ahead?

To begin to answer these and other questions, we spoke with noted school reformer Paul Vallas, a former superintendent of schools in Chicago and Philadelphia. He talks about the role of America’s education system as being central to maintaining global competitiveness. Additionally, Jan Rivkin of Harvard Business School believes that immigration policies should also be reformed to keep advanced-degree graduates in science and math in the United States.