I have subscribed to Harvard Business Review for a year. One benefit is that I get "The Daily Stat," a one- or two-paragraph summary of a study of (purported) relevance to the real world. The email for last Friday (September 23) reported on the study, "How do Students Respond to Labor Market and Education Incentives." The summary revealed:
"An uptick in the jobless rate from 5% to 6% decreases the amount of time high-school students choose to spend on homework by about 19 minutes per week. That's because a higher unemployment rate diminishes expected labor-market returns, thus reducing the value of human-capital investment. For similar reasons, a $1 rise in the minimum wage in a state increases students' homework time by about 21 minutes per week."
So if the unemployment rate rises by 1%, students will spend 3.8 minutes less on homework each day, assuming that homework is a Monday through Friday task. If a state's minimum wage rises by $1, the time spent on homework will rise by 4.2 minutes per day (same M-F assumption).
This may be an interesting "factoid" (little fact) to people who obsess about collecting facts whether they have real utility or not, or to lovers of Trivial Pursuit. But does anyone truly believe that students studying 3.8 minutes less or 4.2 minutes more per day makes any real impact on their grades, on their job potential, the state in which they will find the world or the state in which they will leave it?
Every piece of information is a fact. But not all facts are created equal. Some facts may have absolutely no real importance whatsoever.
It makes me wonder how much money was spent by a government entity, university or local school district to develop this information.