Will Sending More Kids to College Reduce Inequality?
Matthew Yglesias is normally one of my favorite liberal bloggers, but I think he’s got it wrong when he answers that question in the affirmative.
He says that rising inequality is attributable to the fact that college graduates are making more while high-school grads’ wages stagnate. (In fact, a lot of the much-vaunted college wage premium increase is eaten up by college graduates tending to live in big cities with high cost of living, but still, fair enough.)
My point: From this fact, it does not follow that getting more high-school grads to attend college will fix the problem. When half of college freshman already fail to graduate within six years, how on earth will it help to give the bottom of the barrel another good scrape? If people at the lower tail of the income distribution stay out of the workforce to spend time in school, and then end up in debt without a degree, doesn’t that make inequality worse? It pains the egalitarian heart to realize this, but some people just aren’t cut out — be it intellectually, temperametally, whatever — for college. Too many of those people are already going.