College Education Is Not a Public Good

by George Leef

A recent argument between University of Chicago professor Luigi Zingales (who favors having students pay for their own college education through some kind of human capital contract) and Richard Kahlenberg (who says that because education is a public good, society ought to pay for at least some of the cost) prompts my latest Pope Center Clarion Call. I side with Zingales. We’ll get the optimal amount of both training and education if willing parties bear the cost. If government starts subsidizing college, however, we will get a great deal of wasted time and money, but no gain in either training or education.