Screening Theory

Screening Theory

The critics of Human Capital Theory and the proponents of Screening Theory believe that education is necessary, but not a sufficient condition to contribute to individual productivity. They argue that specific skills required in a profession are acquired on the job rather than at school. Screening theory states that it is very hard to predict future performance of an individual on the basis of her or his education. The educational qualification and diplomas are used as a screening mechanism. Schooling is an institution of trainability. But the real training starts on the job.

The radicalists of Screening Theory went to the extent of saying that education merely reproduced social inequality from generation to generation. According to Bowles and Gintis , the main function of education for the masses is to teach them discipline, respect for authority, particularly obedience, the ability to cooperate and to concentrate. The radicalists believe that education prepares labourers for inferior-level task in a productive organization. The proponents of screening theory suggest that much of education in developing countries is irrelevant.

Expansion of education results in a higher diploma holder replacing lower diploma holder without producing any improvement in productivity.

Three key element of screening theory are:
• Learning by doing;
• Screening; and
• Diploma inflation

Criticisms of Screening Theory

Some of the criticisms of screening theory are as follows:
• The screening theory proposition that higher education does not adequately contribute to higher earning is not always correct. According to Wolpin, it is hard to explain why self employed people with a higher education usually have higher earnings than self employed people with less education.

• Screening, the real function of education, is somehow parochial and education really vitalizes one’s ability to qualify for the test function of education is much more than screening.

• Szirmai remarked that the correlation between education and income persists throughout people’s workings life. The argument given by the proponents of  creening theory is that education boosts initial earnings, which is not always true.


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