I Can See Clearly Now

Guan Guopan, a sixteen year old student at Datong Township Number 1 Junior High School wearing her glasses. (Photo: Albert Park)

What if $10 could buy you a 50 percent increase in how much a child learned in a school year?

On Marketplace today, Stephen J. Dubner reports on how two economists, Paul Glewwe (rhymes with ‘heavy’) and Albert Park, improved test scores by giving away $10 eyeglasses to schoolchildren with poor eyesight in China’s rural Gansu Province.

What could be simpler, right? Well, not exactly – 30 percent of families offered the glasses turned them down. Meanwhile, an estimated 4 million Americans wear non-prescription ‘vanity’ glasses every day just to look better. Stephen talks with Harvey Moscot, the president of MOSCOT – a New York City eyewear institution – about what might make people in Gansu more excited about wearing glasses.


A disappointing story covering the glaringly obvious conclusion that if kids can see they do better in school. Sort of like the study that divided kids into two groups. In one group they tied the kids' legs together and in the other "control" group they let the kids run free. Then they pitted the students in a race and came to the astounding conclusion that the kids who did not have their legs tied ran faster. There's a suggestion fro a future podcast.