Category Archives: Economic Mobility

New Article: “Some Cities Are Still More Unequal Than Others – An Update”

New Article: “Some Cities Are Still More Unequal Than Others – An Update” – Brookings

New Article: “Will Inequality Ever Stop Growing”

New Article: “Will Inequality Ever Stop Growing?” – The Atlantic

New Article: “All Hollowed Out”

New Article: “All Hollowed Out” – The Atlantic

New Article: “Education-as-Inheritance Crowds Out Education-as-Opportunity”

DSC_0090New Article: Palma Joy Strand, Education-as-Inheritance Crowds Out Education-as-Opportunity, 59 St. Louis L.J. 283 (2015).  Abstract below:

Since the founding of our nation, education has been valued as a preeminent means of achieving equal opportunity and the social mobility of democracy. A generation ago, however, Professor John Langbein diagnosed a different function of education: the transmission of wealth from one generation to the next.

In this article, I examine education as intergenerational wealth transmission through a critical lens. My primary inquiry is whether the traditional role of education-as-opportunity is being “crowded out” by education-as-inheritance.

The article first examines and verifies Langbein’s diagnosis: Education today is indeed an important way to transfer wealth intergenerationally. The article next documents lack of access to education for those without economic resources, a lack of access that extends from birth through college. The article concludes by identifying flagging public investment in education as creating a vacuum that is being filled by the increasingly privatized provision of education. This privatized investment constitutes an indirect but real form of intergenerational wealth transmission, which dampens social mobility.

Countering this trend, increasing social mobility will necessitate a shift away from education-as-inheritance toward education-as-opportunity. More progressive public investment at all levels of education is called for to facilitate this shift.

News Coverage: An hereditary meritocracy | The Economist

An hereditary meritocracy | The Economist.

An Atlas of Upward Mobility Shows Paths Out of Poverty – NYTimes.com

An Atlas of Upward Mobility Shows Paths Out of Poverty – NYTimes.com.

New Article: “The Great Society and the Constitution of Opportunity”

New Article: Joseph Fishkin & William E. Forbath, The Great Society and the Constitution of Opportunity, 62 Drake L. Rev. 1017 (2014).

New Book: “The Tyranny of the Meritocracy: Democratizing Higher Education in America”

MeritocracyNew Book: Lani Guinier, The Tyranny of the Meritocracy: Democratizing Higher Education in America (2015).  From the publisher’s website:

Standing on the foundations of America’s promise of equal opportunity, our universities purport to serve as engines of social mobility and practitioners of democracy. But as acclaimed scholar and pioneering civil rights advocate Lani Guinier argues, the merit systems that dictate the admissions practices of these institutions are functioning to select and privilege elite individuals rather than create learning communities geared to advance democratic societies. Having studied and taught at schools such as Harvard University, Yale Law School, and the University of Pennsylvania Law School, Guinier has spent years examining the experiences of ethnic minorities and of women at the nation’s top institutions of higher education, and here she lays bare the practices that impede the stated missions of these schools.

Goaded on by a contemporary culture that establishes value through ranking and sorting, universities assess applicants using the vocabulary of private, highly individualized merit. As a result of private merit standards and ever-increasing tuitions, our colleges and universities increasingly are failing in their mission to provide educational opportunity and to prepare students for productive and engaged citizenship.

To reclaim higher education as a cornerstone of democracy, Guinier argues that institutions of higher learning must focus on admitting and educating a class of students who will be critical thinkers, active citizens, and publicly spirited leaders. Guinier presents a plan for considering “democratic merit,” a system that measures the success of higher education not by the personal qualities of the students who enter but by the work and service performed by the graduates who leave.

Guinier goes on to offer vivid examples of communities that have developed effective learning strategies based not on an individual’s “merit” but on the collaborative strength of a group, learning and working together, supporting members, and evolving into powerful collectives. Examples are taken from across the country and include a wide range of approaches, each innovative and effective. Guinier argues for reformation, not only of the very premises of admissions practices but of the shape of higher education itself.

How Black Middle-Class Kids Become Poor Adults – The Atlantic

How Black Middle-Class Kids Become Poor Adults – The Atlantic.

The American Dream Is Leaving America – NYTimes.com

The American Dream Is Leaving America – NYTimes.com. [Op-Ed by Kristof on education and economic mobility.]