“A new look at similar data suggests that for a select minority, Ivy League admission does yield a career jackpot.”
This may seem obvious at first glance, but there’s more to the story.
Josh Zumbrun writes at the Wall Street Journal:
How Ivy League Schools Tilt Your Odds in the Lottery of Life
Economists have long scoffed at parents’ obsession with getting their kids into an Ivy League college, thanks to research years ago showing it made no difference to a student’s future income.
But it turns out that research might have missed something important. A new look at similar data suggests that for a select minority, Ivy League admission does yield a career jackpot.
These findings tend to reinforce the suspicion that the nation’s top universities aren’t just a gateway to a good job but to the nation’s ruling elite. That is especially relevant in the wake of a Supreme Court ruling prohibiting the use of race as a factor in college admissions.
Until now, the received wisdom among economists was based on a pair of papers published in 2002 and 2014 showing that students who were accepted to elite schools, but didn’t actually attend them, ended up having the same average incomes as students who attended.
Authors Stacy Berg Dale, now a principal researcher at data-science company Mathematica, and the late Alan Krueger of Princeton University based their findings on admissions data from a mix of 34 private and public universities, liberal-arts colleges and historically black institutions for the year 1976. They sought to track down nearly every student from this cohort 20 years later. A follow-up study followed students from the 1989 school year.
Dale, then a researcher for the Mellon Foundation, realized the data could settle a debate lingering since the 1960s. Did graduates of top universities earn more because of something the college did, or because elite schools simply attracted people with the characteristics—diligence, smarts, initiative—to earn more?
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