Master’s Degrees in Janitorial Science?

There has been mounting evidence that the financial payoff from the traditional bachelor’s degree is declining, particularly for men. For example, Census Bureau data suggest that, from 2005 to 2016, the average earnings differential for male workers holding bachelor’s degrees compared with those holding high school diplomas fell from $39,440 to $37,653 (in 2016 dollars)—at … Continue reading “Master’s Degrees in Janitorial Science?”


Is Underemployment of Recent College Grads a Serious Problem?

For decades, the American higher education establishment was able to sell the idea that promoting college was sound policy because it seemed that nearly all graduates found good, high-paying jobs. But around 15 years ago, people began to notice that a rather large percentage of college grads were taking low-skill jobs with poor pay and … Continue reading “Is Underemployment of Recent College Grads a Serious Problem?”


Are College Presidents Paid Too Much?

In a typical week, I get four or five inquiries from media relating to some higher education issue. Five years ago, perhaps five or ten percent of those inquiries related to university executive compensation, especially the salaries of presidents. Now, probably 40-50 percent of the queries are on that topic. The public is increasingly interested … Continue reading “Are College Presidents Paid Too Much?”



Universities in Islamic nations make the same mistakes we do—but worse

Universities are great inventions, and they have a role everywhere, in areas rich and poor, Christian, Islamic, and even atheist. But the Law of Diminishing Returns applies: universities in small doses can disseminate and advance knowledge in welfare-inducing ways, but if expanded too fast, they produce dismal results at the margin. In the Middle East/North African region, this problem is aggravated by over-centralization.




Griggs v. Duke Power

This paper by Bryan O’Keefe and Richard Vedder raises a provocative question. Does the increase in college enrollment over the past 30 years partly reflect the changing pressures on employers based on a 1971 Supreme Court decision? And if so, could these pressures also explain the much-touted increase in earnings that comes from a college education?

O’Keefe and Vedder explore the impact of the Griggs v. Duke Power decision on today’s college enrollment. In Griggs, the plaintiffs argued that Duke Power’s reliance on two aptitude tests discriminated against minority groups. Subsequent cases and statutory law have changed the environment for employer testing. This may have changed the pressure to attend college.

The paper is jointly published by the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy and the Center for College Affordability and Productivity.



The High Cost and Low Productivity of Our Higher Education System: What it Means for America

I am honored by the invitation to speak to you today. The Pope Center is a very positive force in rethinking higher education in America. I am somewhat surprised, frankly, that I was invited to speak, since I am an economist, and economists suffer from two defects. First, they are deadly dull. It is usually more fun watching paint dry than listening to an economist. Indeed, it might even be preferable to have a hemorrhoid operation without an anesthetic from an unlicensed French physician to having to listen to an economist pontificate.