[ExI] big rip in education

Dan TheBookMan danust2012 at gmail.com
Wed Mar 6 23:56:05 UTC 2019

I’m wondering why no one here has discussion Bryan Caplan’s on education:


Or have I missed it? The TL;DR rundown of his book is this: education is mostly signaling. Degree inflation is mainly not increasing worker skills or even detecting talent, but merely an expansive (and, therefore, mostly wasteful) signal. Think of the analogy with buying an expansive engagement ring. According to Caplan, this best explain degree — why the BA and BS degrees have become the new high school diploma.

He also responds to other theories and even other purposes to education, such as having an informed citizenry. On all these, he shows that the data doesn’t much fit. For instance, with regard to an informed citizenry, the data seems to show few students recall much of their civics and history lessons. They seem to memorize enough to pass the test and then promptly forget this stuff. Which is kind of signaling works: the goal is to signal — not to retain or use what’s learned.)

And, yes, he does discuss how people can basically pursue knowledge and skills online and outside of schooling or degrees. (Of course, a problem for employers is a signal tends to be cheaper for them than, say, extensively confirming someone has independently mastered some skill or domain.)



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