By Arnold Kling
One of the issues that I have been thinking about since reading Coming Apart is segregation.
1. Where Bryan sees college as a useful signaling device for those who are cognitively gifted, I see it as a useful segregation device for the Vickies.
2. The segregation model predicts that as the society gets wealthier, the dollar cost of college will get higher. The signaling model would not necessarily predict that. In fact, it would predict that the market would try to find less expensive signals.
3. The segregation model predicts the emergence of institutions like Boston University and George Washington University, which require much more money than brains to attend, and yet which have fairly high prestige, considering.
4. I think that if either the utilitarian model or the signaling model of higher education were correct, I would be sure to collect on any bet I make with Bryan about the demise of colleges. If college as we know it manages to persist for another two decades, it will be thanks to the segregation model.
5. Vickies historically have needed thetes in order to have military power. Drone warfare might change that, which could make segregation even more viable.
6. Segregation sounds bad, but both Vickies and thetes may find it preferable. Maybe instead of “the American project” we will have the Vicky project and the thete project and, contra Murray, we will be none the worse for it. Integration would be more stressful.
7. In the world as a whole (but not necessarily in America), there will be plenty of upward mobility. There will be plenty of global Vickies with whom America’s Vickies can affiliate.
8. Perhaps Mitt Romney’s gaffe is actually an omen for the future.