Finance is great, but it can be a real drag, too

When we were college students in the mid-1970s, some of our friends wanted to change the world. Their work aimed at providing cheap energy, improving information technology, curing cancer, and generally making our lives better. By the 1990s, attitudes had changed. Many top students, including newly-minted Ph.D.s, moved from natural science and engineering to finance. Their goal was to get high-paying jobs.

Would we be better off today if some of these financial wizards had focused instead on inventing more efficient solar cells or finding ways to forestall dementia?  The older we get, the more we think so. And, believe it or not, there is now notable, cross-country evidence buttressing this view.

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