There’s a new study out that poses a good question: as our industries shift and there are more incentives for going to college (like, you know, getting a job), why aren’t more people pursuing degrees? Economic theory would argue that, if skill upgrades equal more income and more stability, people would naturally push for more of these upgrades. Instead, fewer people are pursuing higher education, and the income gap between the educated and the uneducated is expanding.
Matthew Yglesias at The Atlantic wonders why we don’t do as well generating policies to address this problem in the same way that we do for other, similarly tractable problems (like the Clean Air Act, or regulation of the finance industry).
And educational attainment isn’t a fixed metaphysical element of the universe, better policies would get a better-educated population. One reason why Europe hasn’t seen as much growth in inequality is that in western European countries the proportion of people finishing college has kept climbing steadily.