The Status-Good Model of College
By Arnold Kling
Bryan correctly characterized my views. However, to me they imply a tipping equilibrium. Something that is a status good in one era can be the opposite in another. Think of smoking, for example.
At some point, there may emerge a generation for whom having their children attend an elite college is not a status good. Maybe today’s twenty-somethings will turn out to be that generation. In any case, once that happens, the whole industry will collapse and not recover.
Predicting when that will happen is difficult. It’s like predicting any tipping point, such as the tipping point at which an asset bubble pops or the tipping point at which people no longer believe that a government will pay its debts. Once the equilibrium tips, the employer prejudice might tip away from those who attend brick-and-mortar colleges, so that their wage premium could turn negative.