Noting that Israel falls well below OECD countries in worker productivity, economists at Jerusalem's Van Leer Institute on Sunday urged the government to increase budgetary allocations to improve the country's much-maligned education system and public sector institutions. Improving education will raise flagging worker productivity, which a report, issued ahead of tomorrow's Van Leer Conference on Economics and Society, indicated has grown only 1.1 percent over the past year compared to 1.9% growth in OECD countries. Between 1980-2005, worker productivity grew only 1.17% compared to 1.94% average growth in Austria, Ireland, the UK, the US, Spain, France and Sweden. Ireland, noted the Van Leer report, which demonstrated the highest increase of worker productivity over the 25-year period, had the proper balance between macro-economic policy, worker rights, the collaborative agreements between business and government, economic reforms, increase in foreign investments, investments in education and reforms in the public sector. In Israel, comparatively, investments in education were low and the country maintained a markedly low presence of higher education professors aged 25-34 - only 25%, compared to over 42% in Sweden, 31% in OECD countries and 40.4% in Ireland. In an ironic twist, the Van Leer report noted that as participation in the country's work force rose in the 1980s, productivity actually dropped off. This is attributed to the fact that the work force became inundated with uneducated and unskilled workers during this period, leading to a significant decrease in overall per capita productivity. The conference's keynote address will be delivered by Peter H. Lindert, Professor of Economics, University of California, Davis, who will speak on "Welfare States, Markets and Efficiency: The Free Lunch Puzzle Continues."