Thursday, January 19, 2012

Look for shocks

Baseline Scenario succumbs to its bias, and gets the causality wrong.
So there are two possible reasons why these people make the top 1 percent. One is that they are talented, hardworking people who succeed (financially) despite what they majored in—but then why are talented, hardworking people overrepresented in these majors? The other is that they are children of the elite who go to elite schools, study whatever they feel like, and succeed because of their upbringing and connections. (The reasons are not mutually exclusive.) Given the increasing evidence that America, the land of opportunity, is actually one of limited social mobility, I think we can’t overlook the latter explanation.
If talent and a strong work ethic is heritable, through genetics or upbringing or some combination of the two, then one would expect limited social mobility.

The real test of social mobility in a system is how it responds to shocks. Say, someone who is lazy and an idiot is born into Bill Gates' family. He might be wealthy, but what would his income be? Or suppose a hard working genius was born to a poor family in New York? Would they be left to languish, or would they be successful?


Blogger alg said...

George W Bush

10:30 AM  
Blogger Oliver Davey said...

the third possibility is that these subjects actually convey knwoledge that, counter to popular belief, is as actually more likely to result in professional success than, say the drivel tought in run of the mill MBA courses or the highly specific knowledge of the natural sciences.

2:25 AM  
Blogger Oliver Davey said...

and accepting that social capital exists, (whether hereditary or acquired is secondary in this regard, I'd say) is already 1'000 steps ahead of the meritocratic nonsense that is still peddled by those who wish to cement the status quo.

2:31 AM  

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