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Some folks tend to believe that some things are not too good to be true. I politely try to disabuse them of the notion here.

I apologize for the shameless self-promotion. Here’s a sampling above the fold:

Suppose that education is synonymous with human capital accumulation. Focusing on average educational attainment still makes the erroneous assumption that a year of additional education to every citizen increases the stock of human capital the same for each citizen, and also overlooks the possibility that changes in the quality of different levels of educational attainment may be more or less valuable investments than sending more people to college. For example, improving the stock of useful knowledge might be better accomplished by encouraging existing college graduates to obtain advanced degrees, with no change in high school graduate behavior. Alternatively, it might mean the same aggregate level of college completions, but changing who goes to college and who does not. It would be a wondrous coincidence if having lots of Americans complete four years of formal higher education was the appropriate way to increase the stock of human capital in America.

Of course, I encourage you to read the whole thing. The comments are always fun to read too. How many of them make critical arguments based on something grounded in reason?

One Response to “Too Much of a Good Thing?”

  1. […] Now think of higher education the same way. The free-riders here are the rest of society, who rarely compensate students to obtain more higher education, but they certainly do benefit if I do get educated. Textbooks suggest that governments simply subsidize students (or worse, run schools themselves) to overcome the free-rider problem. But think of what colleges have become. Just as port- and slip-owners ended up bundling the valued public good (the light) with the valued private good (the port-slip), which is easy to exclude non-payers from, so too have colleges bundled this public good (education) with an easy to exclude private good (entry into the dating market, party scene, connections, etc.). Thus, it is extremely likely that the public goods problem in higher education has been solved, and perhaps even “oversolved.” […]

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