Dec 22, 2014 ·
George Leef ·
Comments Off on We can thank the Supreme Court for credential inflation
Perhaps you have noticed that many jobs requiring only basic skills and a cooperative attitude are now walled off to Americans who donâ€™t possess a college degree.
The mania for college credentials hampers upward mobility for individuals without a college degree. They are confined to the shrinking and mostly low-pay segment of the labor market where educational credentials still donâ€™t matter. (As I argued here, that explains much of the earnings gap between workers with and without college degrees.)
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.