At the beginning of the 21th century mankind is confronted with a number of global challenges. Energy crisis, climate change, ecosystem degradation, pockets of extreme poverty and food insecurity collide with a world population that still grows at record numbers. If one would try to find a single instrument to address these challenges one would end up at education. Education has the biggest impact on fertility decline in developing countries. Education makes is possible to capitalize on the demographic dividend. It is the most important determinant of self-respect, health and life expectancy and therefore is the key factor for human happiness. Education matters greatly for almost every aspect of human well-being.
Whereas the role of education for enhancing human capital is obvious, the investment into education is far from satisfactory. Internationally only 2 to 4 percent of development funds are invested into basic education. Existing studies on the impact of education will be used to describe the different possible paths of global development according to varying investments into education.
The work should make an important contribution to the forthcoming 500-year commemoration of Martin Luther’s reformation in 2017 as it was one of Luther’s primary goals to make a written text available to the general public. Education for the first time in history became a common good and not a privilege of the elites and paved the way to enlightenment, democratisation and the industrial revolution.