College socializes people into the mentality of the affluent

There is a paper on that theme (pdf) by Tali Mendelberg, Katherine T.McCabe, and Adam Thal, here is the abstract:

Affluent Americans support more conservative economic policies than the non-­affluent, and government responds disproportionately to these views. Yet little is known about the emergence of these consequential views. We develop, test and find support for a theory of class cultural norms: these preferences are partly traceable to socialization that occurs on predominately affluent college campuses, especially those with norms of financial gain, and especially among socially embedded students. The economic views of the student’s cohort also matter, in part independently of affluence. We use a large panel dataset with a high response rate and more rigorous causal inference strategies than previous socialization studies. The affluent campus effect holds with matching, among students with limited school choice, and in a natural experiment, and passes placebo tests. College socialization partly explains why affluent Americans support economically conservative policies.

For the pointer I thank Nathaniel Bechhofer.  One implication is that left-wing, politically correct top private universities don’t actually turn out such left-wing individuals, all things considered.  You can think of their sillier college views as part of a broader life cycle, portfolio story.  I also take this to be further evidence of just how much education is about socialization, rather than the explicit mastery of scholarly information.


Does anyone else find it odd that Tyler has almost never mentioned Walter Williams in this blog?

He didn't even bring up this PBS special.

Hmmm, obviously you find this topic/paper on college socialization of the affluent to be non-interesting. I agree.

But the subjective choice of blog topics and contributors is rightfully that of its authors. What do you think they are trying to achieve here with this 24/7 effort? Analyze your own question-- why does this specific blog exist?

I just thought it was odd. Something I find annoying with blogs, especially GMU blogs, is how campy they get toward each other from time to time.

Like this

and this

and this

these where just what i found by doing very quick google searches.

So I find it odd that Tyler posts about senior citizens blind dating but doesn't let us know that Walter Williams was profiled by PBS. Doesn't Dr. Williams deserve at least an assorted link shout out?

Not surprising at all. Professor Cowen is not a libertarian. Look at where he gets most of his info: New YorkTimes, Washington Post, the Guardian, Mother Jones, etc.

I did notice that approving citations to Corey Robin of all people seem to crop up several times a year.

He either does not read the starboard press or he would like to appear not to. The Claremont Review has been cited once (because they reviewed his book); City Journal, never; Policy Review, never; Jonah Goldberg, twice (both just links; TC gave a critical review of his book elsewhere); Charles Colson, never; Hugh Hewitt, never; Victor Davis Hanson (twice in passing, both implicitly critical); Richard Lowry, never; Midge Decter, never; Richard John Neuhaus, never; Mackubin Thomas Owens, never.

Arthur Brooks has been cited a half-dozen times, Thomas Sowell has been cited a dozen times, and Martin Feldstein two dozen times, so perhaps it helps to be a professional economist. Then again, Bruce Bartlett has been cited more than 50 times. He's a quondam think tank denizen / Treasury official who did no graduate work in economics (but does have a certain shtick).

An addendum: Stanley Kurtz (cited once), Robert George (never), Ryan Anderson (never), Charles Kesler (never), Glenn Reynolds (about a dozen times, but only twice in the last 10 years), Heather McDonald (never cited).

David Frum's been cited a dozen times (all but one from the years since he broke with National Review). David Brooks and Ross Douthat are cited dozens of times every years. Well, they're in the Times. Megan McArdle is cited dozens of times a year (well, she used to write for The Atlantic and The Economist).

It's almost as if someone's writing needs a Kosher stamp before he can look at it.

No, I don't find it odd at all. Are you Walter Williams' research assistant or PR flak or something?

College: the place where you get the skills to signal that you have skills.

I get very suspicious when people try to meaningfully classify economic thought into "liberal" and "conservative." I believe that the United States has a long term fiscal sustainability problem, does that make me a conservative. Personally, I just think that it makes me someone who believes in math.

Looks like the paper uses willingness to tax the wealthy as the proxy for liberal v conservative. Kind of a weak proxy, no? I'm all for taxing the wealthy so long as the money goes to deficit reduction or some other demonstrably economically productive activity. But if you're just proposing to increase taxes on the wealthy to funnel more money into government boondoggles, then I'm against it. Again, does that make me conservative? Sounds like what they're really studying is how much being surrounded by the wealthy makes kids want to explicitly look out for the interests of the wealthy. That's an interesting topic, but it doesn't have much to do with political affiliation.

Also, would be interesting to see what the results would have looked like in 1950s and '60s when Old Keynesian ]ism and the mixed economy were the economic orthodoxy.

"Sounds like what they’re really studying is how much being surrounded by the wealthy makes kids want to explicitly look out for the interests of the wealthy. That’s an interesting topic, but it doesn’t have much to do with political affiliation."


Not very persuasive, but at least you suggested it as a question. I think his interpretation of the variable is closer to reality than what the authors made of it, although clearly the reasons for the answer will differ among respondents.

The top 1% of income earners in the USA currently pay about 45% of federal taxes, while most of the bottom 20% receive back more than they paid.

Perhaps that's just as it should be, or perhaps the top 1% should pay 90%, but what is the basis for either? It's always been populist manna to bellow, "tax the rich!" yet who is to decide what is "fair," let alone when high taxes produce more economic harm than benefit?

Is it really asking too much to ask for the application of sweet reason (instead of raw emotion) to the issue?

(And no doubt many college students think "someone else" should pay for college, just as more of those who work at a U.S. Ford assembly plant favor restrictions on imports than those who work at an otherwise-similarToyota factory. Sometimes in the political realm self-interest is not only expected but may be the best that can be expected.)

The top 1% of income earners in the USA currently pay about 45% of federal taxes, while most of the bottom 20% receive back more than they paid.

This is a comparison of apples and oranges (which I think you're aware of, but just want to flag for discussion purposes)--placement in the income distribution isn't inherently related to taxes. The more relevant statistic is to look at percentage of national income versus percentage of taxes paid--I don't have the numbers handy, but off the top of my head I recall looking at IRS and Census data some time back showing that the "wealthy" regularly pay 10-30 percentage points more as a share of federal taxes than their share of national income (depending upon how we define "wealthy" and market volatility in a given year) which can come out to 40-90% of the entire federal tax take (dependent on those same factors).

Poor people pay income tax too, but it's known payroll tax.

If payroll tax didn't exist, employees would get a higher salary / income. Individual income and payroll tax revenues are comparable. Rant about something else.

Sorry, I don't consider it a tax when the government takes some money and then gives it back to you later with like a 30% annual compounding return.

You as a worker want to be paid even less by the old and poor who can no longer work as much for low wages?

Who pays the top 1% all their high wages, and where do those people get the money they pay the 1%?

What in the world are you talking about?

30%!?!? Let's do the math: 30% compounded annually means after 30 years you will have 2,620 times the amount you put in. In other words, if I pay just $1,000 into such a scheme (a very small amount even for low-wage people who pay payroll taxes), I can expect $2.6 million worth of benefits after 30 years. Check your numbers.

Their economics professors tell them to maximize total welfare without concern for distributional consequences, and we can redistribute it ex post. But then the distribution we allow to exist as a means of maximizing the size of the pie becomes the baseline against which many judge "fairness."

"The top 1% of income earners in the USA currently pay about 45% of federal taxes"

This number is pretty clearly going to be a function of the share of income of the top 1% as well as the extent to which we try to minimize the tax burden of those with much lower incomes. At the extreme end of policies to minimize the tax burden of the poor and working class, we have the policy advocated by no less of a libertarian than Milton Friedman himself who called for a negative income tax.

The U.S. has really low tax rates on the middle class

Money is power. Especially, it is political power. Generationally accrued money is particularly special political power. It doesn't matter a fig what taxes raised from the rich is spent on. Spend it on free movie tickets, it still will result in societal improvement.

Given the extreme leftist bias of college faculties ,it is a wonder that any students come out of them as conservative .Maybe this "research" shows that 1% or so of them are conservatives and this shocks the leftist sensibilities of the "researchers"

It is a wonder that any students come out of them as conservative.

The last I checked, among people with college degrees, there were still quite a lot who identify as Republicans. Yes, there were more Dems, but it's way closer than you would thinking given the rhetoric around here. Do you think that students, pretty much all of whom are adults by the time they reach college, are too stupid to choose their own political ideology? Are they all sheep?

Well, they disagree with me, which can only be explained by them being sheep, not them thinking for themselves.

When teaching, when straying into areas where there is a fair degree of disagreement relating to a social or economic issue, I see it as my job to make them aware of the legitimate arguments in favour of some different positions and some counterarguments. With the exception of racism, homophobia and gender issues. I do not see it as my job to feed students with ideas which promote racism, homophobia or sexism, I just say that some people feel a certain way but express the view that we should just see people as people.

E.g., in a recent lesson, a discussion of "fairness" was relevant. In one example, we have two people working the same number of hours in the same job at different pay. All agreed this in unfair (I didn't lead them to the answer). In the second example, we have two people working the same number of hours in the same job at the same pay. All agreed this is fair. In the third example, one person works and another doesn't, but we have no information about whether the unemployed person might need help or had a lack of opportunities, but we know that one person has a lot more money than the other. Which suffices to demonstrate the existence of disagreement on this point, at which point I end the conversation and continue the lesson. The point not being to try to really answer or debate the question, but rather to make them aware that the issue is debated.

So you're not willing to interject and challenge their assumption that equal pay for equal work is "fair"? I work equally hard at programming in my private projects as my friend at Google, but he gets paid much more. Is it unfair?

Sorry, you're a C average teacher.

But seriously, I wish I had more teachers who thought outside the box and had enough of a contrarian streak to challenge my assumptions. It's an important part of critical thinking to be aware that almost every idea has it's shortcomings. It's even more important for people who won't be exposed to this outside of academia.

I wasn't trying to challenge or shape their positions. I was trying to draw attention to the existence of disagreement, as a matter of translation where the word in their language has a rather specific meaning, but due to cultural differences the possible scope of meaning is broader in English. I am a teacher in a country where foreigners can get deported for talking about politics.

Also, it was a 2 minute sub-discussion of an issue which can fill up entire courses or careers of study. But your point is well taken.

"I see it as my job to make them aware of the legitimate arguments in favour of some different positions and some counterarguments. With the exception of racism, homophobia and gender issues. I do not see it as my job to feed students with ideas which promote racism, homophobia or sexism."

This would seem to confirm a Heterodox Academy post on the forbidden nature of taking social SCIENCE seriously, i.e. violating the strictures of so-called cosmic egalitarianism:

"Even more tellingly, many scholars who contradict mainstream liberal beliefs on gun control and fiscal policies are allowed to remain in relatively good standing in the academy, whereas those scholars (even when they are liberal!) who violate the cosmic egalitarian narrative are ceaselessly calumniated and driven from the ranks of the mainstream intelligentsia—Charles Murray, Arthur Jensen, Linda Gottfredson, J. P. Rushton, Nicholas Wade, Richard Lynn"


So, I should teach my students to hate people and that would make you happy?

Not very respectfully, I disagree.

I am not a social sciences teacher. The subject matter is not racism, homophobia or sexism. If it were, obviously we would delve into such issues more deeply. And even if it were, I think it is perfectly defensible to say that I do not think it would be correct to promote hateful views in the classroom. Rather, just make them aware of some arguments.

"cosmic egalitarianism" is one of the more ridiculous terms I've encountered to suggest that we should have a preference for teachings which promote hateful and/or supremacist ideologies.

But there is no racism on this board, so much so that we should not even speak of it.

Discussing "fairness" in relation to economics is like discussing Van Gogh in relation to national defense. Money is a creation of the state, to be utilized in regulating the economic engine. Fairness is irrelevant except politically, and then, only in the extreme. That is to say, try to avoid revolutions as you regulate the engine. When your students begin to whine, teach them about fairness by flunking them.

The theoretical origins of economics are moral philosophy. If there is any field outside of religion that should be discussing fairness, it is economics.

"When your students begin to whine, teach them about fairness by flunking them."

I prefer to grade them on their results and effort. I do not think we should be conditioning children to submit to injustice.

You don't think their views are shaped by the culture surrounding them?

I think their politics in terms of economics will trend towards their self-interest, but their politics in terms of social views will be affected by the views of the college subculture that surrounded them. Of course, this should gradually erode over time as they are surrounded by different peer groups in different subcultures. But I don't think it ever erodes to nothing.

"You don’t think their views are shaped by the culture surrounding them?"

The whole point was that due to cultural differences, the word doesn't translate perfectly, and there is more disagreement or scope of meaning, and the dictionary translation doesn't quite tell them what it might mean elsewhere.

Also, while it is obvious that we are in no small part motivated by self interest, I think it is incorrect to assume that our more communitarian values are solely a product of social conditioning. Rather, they are natural, if differently emphasized in different cultures.

Actually, according to GSS data, college graduates are more likely to be Republicans than Democrats. That's not true at graduation, but the percentage of Democrats drops precipitously as they approach 30. People with postgrad degrees are more likely to be Democrats, but many, (probably most) graduate degrees are purchased by employees in the one industry that requires one for promotion or automatically pays you more for having one, or both, and employees in that industry are overwhelmingly Democrats. The leftist bias of college faculties has a big influence, but that influence appears to wear off after graduation. It would be interesting to see the distribution taking into account whether the graduate had a part time job before college.

Jan is correct. People with college degrees but not graduate degrees are not particularly liberal. In 2012, 51% of this group voted for Romney, according to the New York Times exit poll.

Paging Sailer. Is this the right comparison? How did other demographic votes vote? Yeah, Obama won, by carrying certain demographics at 60, 70, 80% plus. That voting college grads BARELY broke for Romney does not mean college is not a liberalization agent.
Here's some data that provides a breakdown by education:

That voting college grads BARELY broke for Romney does not mean college is not a liberalization agent.

Your link does not really support your statement. 52% of college grads are Dems vs 42% Republicans. Per your numbers, people with a high school diploma or less education are significantly more likely to be Dems (47% vs 37% Republicans)? Those with "some college" are 47% Dems vs 42% Republicans. So, some college increases the share of Republicans, by a small amount. And completing college increases the share of Dems by the same amount. Ok...

And any analysis that points to a growing Dem/Republican disparity among the college educated is seriously deficient if it doesn't account for the growing share of women and minorities among college grads, groups which already were Dem leaning. For the first time ever, a greater share of women than men have college degrees.

If colleges are a liberalization agent, they are doing a pretty poor job of it, right?

There's a lot of confounding factors. "no college" includes various ethnic minorities in thrall to the Democrats.
There's also substantial change in recent years:
"Among whites without a college degree, the GOP now holds a 54 percent to 37 percent advantage among non-college whites, who were split about evenly four years ago"

"There’s a lot of confounding factors."

Indeed, but when I once ran a multivariate regression of political affiliation on race, age, income, education etc. using data from GSS, being a college graduate only (so excluding people with advanced degrees) simply didn't come out as significant. If someone can point to a study proving otherwise, I'd be happy to change my opinion. But the evidence I have seen is that until you reach the advanced degree level, variation in education is much less important in explaining voting patterns than race, marital status, income and geographic location.

On the more descriptive, anecdotal side, I think one of the reasons people "just know" that college makes people liberal is that they are thinking of a certain type of college graduate who is relatively young, unmarried, living in an urban area and probably struggling financially (even if they pretend otherwise). But young, unmarried people who live in cities and don't earn very much are firmly in the Democratic coalition, whether they have college degrees or not. When they get older, earn more money, get married and move to the suburbs, not so much.

In other words, when they grow up....

Ricardo - multicollinearity and analogous issues. If the variables you put in are strongly related to college education, college education itself will appear to have little effect.

"Ricardo – multicollinearity and analogous issues..."

There are some issues, of course, but multicollinearity isn't one of them. But where we are right now is the simplest analysis shows little relationship between being a college graduate and being a Democrat and more complex analyses also don't show a relationship. The burden is on those claiming such a relationship to demonstrate it using data. If you want to control for race the way Beta Guy wants to, you have to control for other variables as well. Age is an obvious one -- since many more people today attend college than in the past, the pool of college graduates is likely to be younger than the pool of non-graduates and we know that age plays a role in political preferences.

Question: What is the casual explanation for the difference between advanced degrees and 4-year degrees?

My model of this is a bit different as a somewhat recent graduate of a liberal & affluent college. I think that there really is a "silent majority" of students who are pretty economically conservative and are focused on either learning things and getting ahead or partying for 4 years (not all conservative students care about studying that much)

The odder instances of what looks from the outside like liberal overreach seemed to come from smaller groups of students. Many of these students seemed to be pursuing courses of study less focused on maximizing employment potential and some of them may have felt alienated by the college community.

The silent majority is too busy either going to parties or doing math problems to want to bother arguing with the hyper liberal students. This was certainly true of me. I regret this somewhat now, but I didn't want to argue with people (some of whom were and are my friends) even when I felt they were pursuing absolutely stupid policy goals.

Of course. Why would I waste my time arguing politics when I could be studying, playing sports or going to parties? I remember writing an angry email when someone in my circle claimed that the scientific defintion of life proved that abortion was immoral, but I wasn't going to go demonstrate or counter-demonstrate over some meaningless student life issue. You have to be a bit of a lunatic to care that much. Which already rules out the type of socialization the study refers to.

We've been hearing a lot on this blog about right wingers' concerns regarding liberal indoctrination at colleges in this country. But this study's findings go in the other direction. Maybe both perspectives are a bit off and the reality is that, on balance, college does open students up to more liberal thinking, but that on balance the effect is very small?

Perhaps college indoctrinates students to the left in social issues and to the right in economic issues?

I don't think "indoctrinate" is quite the right word, but perhaps "has left/rightward influences" on. Basically, I think I agree with you.

Personally, I was influenced rightward on economic issues, but never suffered from any racism, homophobia or sexism in the first place, so these influences were negligible or zero.

But did you suffer from transphobia, xenophobia, or Islamophobia?

Meh, people are people. Extremists of any type who are pre-disposed towards violence are just that, extremists who are predisposed to violence, regardless of whatever specific group that may be more common among in any given historical context.

The act of simply ignoring these important social issues demonstrates latent trans, xeno, and islamo-phobias, and is a microaggression against these marginalized communities. Nathan's careless and harmful conduct further demonstrates how dangerous this space is to those who don't fit the dominant cis-hetero, white male norm. We don't need people like Nathan teaching impressionable and often vulnerable youths.

Yeah, I've gotten that before. Almost to a word. Those people are also people, but their words do not incline me to have much respect for them. No matter how fervently I might argue "people are people, treat them the same, yeah, history happened, but NO F'N WAY ARE YOU GOING TO MAKE ME FEEL GUILTY ABOUT IT, and oh, by the way, I think we should really try to be respectful to anyone ...".

Anything that strays from the victim narrative ... honestly, it's so completely irrational, and I've only encountered it online, that I sometimes kinda wonder if it might be plants from the opposite side trying to make the ideals of treating people with respect come across as retarded. But given who they try to get fired for what in the real world, sadly, it's almost certainly a real thing.

Pardon the generalization, but that would suggest college is moving people toward more libertarian worldviews. Maybe. I do think that strain of thinking is growing. They tend to vote Republican though, so that would be interesting given the concerns the right has about college.

To the extent it's libertarian, it seems to be SV liberaltarian as opposed to Hayek Libertarian.

What kind of views does an "SV liberaltarian" have?

Any group of people who thinks that the solutions to society's problems is to make everyone else like them are usually the last people you want governing society. It also seems weird to call a group with such paternalistic goals libertarian.

So these are basically authoritarians?

Why are they called libertarians again?

I wouldn't call it libertarian for the most part, though there is some of that.

There is some of the social justice stuff, though I believe that to be a loud-but-small group.

I think there is a heavy dose of elitist paternalism, and faith in technocratic solutions. When you are surrounded by intelligent, clever people, believe yourself to be intelligent and clever, and regularly discuss policy issues and potential solutions, you start to think, "Wow, we've solved this problem! We just need smart, clever people planning society and everything will be great!"

I certainly felt that way at many points in law school, though my contrarian tendencies pushed back and I think that I ultimately have less faith in technocracy and technocrats than ever before.

I haven't finished the paper. Apparently I have to work for money. But the paper discusses affluent students in predominantly affluent universities. What exactly does "affluent" mean in this context? Furthermore, what's being used as the benchmark? If the median college student is a raging socialist, then the affluent students will appear "conservative" even if they 100% support Obama and just happen to reject Sanders at a 50-50 rate.

I guess the term limousine liberal has been forgotten. I'd chalk it up to the rise of tech and finance. Most leftists in prior decades were children of old money who never worked, so they supported terrible economic policies. A lot more leftists have earned their money at hedge funds and tech companies these days. They favor laws that let them keep their money. You still see the old money leftists at things like OWS protests.

Most leftists in prior decades were children of old money who never worked -

The old leftist I knew best was a statistician who worked for the county welfare department. Combat veteran too; his father was a professor at a dental school, so not old money. I did know an old money type involved in Metro-Act in Rochester (more New Left than old). He was a management consultant who, in addition to his other activities, founded an HMO in 1973. He eventually went bust and spent the last years of his life in office and service jobs (including a stint as a janitor). Come to think of it, the leading spirit in Metro-Act all those years was a dentist, usually a Republican occupational group.


Henry Wallace (founded his own, quite lucrative, business); EV Debs (declasse son of an immigrant businessman); Norman Thomas (clergyman's son); Harry Bridges (merchant seaman, immigrant); Morris Hilquit (lawyer, son of immigrant factory worker), Julius and Ethel Rosenberg (engineer married to a secretary; immigrant wage-earner parents), Howard Zinn (professor; immigrant wage-earner parents), Irving Howe (son of a small merchant; journalist / professor); Daniel deLeon (lawyer / professor; son of a physician); Walter Reuther (factory worker; son of a factory worker), Staughton Lynd (2d generation professor), Lincoln Steffens (journalist).

I think Corliss Lamont fits your bill.

It would have been a lot better if 8 had wrote " Most wealthy leftists in prior decades were children of old money who never worked" Obviously, it is ridiculous to suggest a majority of leftists or rightists have ever been wealthy, let alone children of old money.

It's always been a bit of a silly meme. If you look at famous, highly influential people of any political persuasion at any point in time, it shouldn't be a surprise that most of them are rich and went to elite schools. The pattern that arises in almost any country where there is data is that people with lower incomes are more likely to support left-wing economic policy and people with higher incomes are less likely.

Higher education is the engine of yuppification, where socialization includes materialism iced with liberal social awareness.

I went to one of the country's strong public universities for college, so we had a good mix of wealthy status people from the East Coast and your down-home but intelligent Midwestern kids. The local kids, like myself, were not caught up in yuppification and our materialism was limited to who had the most interesting beers to drink. And, really, we rarely talked about political stuff. I think there was a small subset of the richie people who drove BMWs with out of state plates and went to adult-priced restaurants, competed on whose North Face was more expensive, but they mostly hung out with themselves. Basically, what you describe was not my college experience at all. Maybe it's like that at some schools,

Few colleges are committed to a particular ideology, but those that are lean right not left. Who would fund a left-wing college, Che Guevara? Indeed, right wing ideologues see left wing conspiracies everywhere, even in the colleges that produce most of the bankers, the lawyers who represent the bankers, and the conservative judges who dominate the courts. It's as if their work isn't done until they root out the last liberal. Of course, it's always been that way, the fear of left-leaning teachers, public servants, judges, and politicians the inspiration for any number of right-wing think tanks and advocacy groups who rely on the threat of an imminent left-wing revolution for their fund-raising. The reality is that political views reflect a normal distribution, the same as with intelligence. And the normal distribution doesn't disappear when limited to the top tier. It's only partly true that the Great Recession has politicized Americans. The part that leans right.

That is the best news I've had in years.

Complains about right wing victimhood narrative
Creates left wing victimhood narrative

Niiiiice. No shame.

I didn't see any whining at all. Or discussions of victim narratives.

Can we speak rationally about which direct of change is occurring or has occurred without assuming that those on the "opposite" side must consider themselves as victims? I mean, probably there are some very real victims out there, but the question of whether unis are tilting a little bit left or right probably isn't the part of the story that is relevant to any victimization occurring as a result of left/right influences.

Since the right widely claims that the universities are stock full of raging leftists, well, I imagine there might actually be more left-wing victims these days, no matter that according to "leftism as defined by supporting Democrats" (and really, Democrats have never been all that left wing, Bernie Sanders aside) there are somewhat more "leftists" in academia.

But when the right wing is openly hostile to academia, what, do you expect them to vote Republican?

"Since the right widely claims that the universities are stock full of raging leftists, well, I imagine there might actually be more left-wing victims these days, no matter that according to “leftism as defined by supporting Democrats” (and really, Democrats have never been all that left wing, Bernie Sanders aside) there are somewhat more “leftists” in academia."

Huh? "somewhat more"? Are you aware of the copious evidence that academia is overwhelmingly dominated by leftists, and indeed the most extreme leftists on the American political spectrum (communists, socialists, etc.)?

"the right wing is openly hostile to academia"? Really? You think the professors started out Republican and became communists after academia was criticized by other Republicans?

Yea, it's pretty shocking that people still deny this. Most don't though. There's a grudging admittance that universities are pretty lefty, but they'll often say it's a good thing. "The right is in control of everything else."

Like the media and the entertainment biz?...

Silly Rabbit! Faculty are not left or right oriented. They are fact oriented. This tends to produce the results that you notice.

Sarcasm? An astute observation that rationalists are inevitably communist?

The evidence I've seen mostly seems to suggest that more academics vote Democrat. But establishment Democrats aren't exactly leftist compared to just about anywhere in the world.

However, I generally see the issue as this. People who work on issues which are not likely to be solved by market processes are more likely to end up in academia than business. I do not believe that those people have an agenda to transform youth into leftists. Why? Because I never met a prof with such an agenda.

One implication is that left-wing, politically correct top private universities don’t actually turn out such left-wing individuals, all things considered

Only if you fancy the faculty / administration non-negotiables concern matters economic. News flash: the faculty, the provost, and the dean of students do not care about generic working-class Americans, and, in fact, unself-consciously despise them. . They care about their various mascot groups: homosexuals, young women with psychiatric issues and sundry behavioral problems, blacks, hispanics, They pro-actively curry favor with the first two and regard the latter two as status symbols (and thus curry favor with them when push comes to shove).

When's the last time you stepped foot on a campus?

Wednesday evening.

Hmmm... more recently than me. I hear it's going a little overboard these days, but I think you overstate the situation. Then again, I have no idea what the topic at hand was when you were there ...

Of course, the first times that youths experience outside "socialization" are after 12+ years of public school.

Public schools socialize people into the mentality of the [fill in the blank].

Ayn Rand has great value as an antidote to 12+ years of public school, but then like public school she should be left behind.

Any school is to early to form a political identity. Living, working, and ideally travel should be involved.

That is all good, and consider adding add compulsory military service.

It worked for the Greatest Generation, but if hadn't been for Tojo and Hitler I don't think they'd have gone at all.

Compulsory military service? For freedom? No thanks.

Are you suggesting compulsion and freedom aren't compatible?

Reminds me of reading an article in a Mormon magazine once. Well, the first paragraph anyways. The basic premise was "following ALL rules and submitting completely is FREEDOM." I didn't have the energy to fully engage with the ideas, it seemed so absurd. Like, I get the Buddhist idea of freedom by not being enslaved by desires, but I think in Mormonism it's not so much along those lines. Well, the Mormons I know aren't very pushy, they just say that they feel better social engagement and healthier bodies when following their practices.

One might say that the cycle of prep schools, high SATs and Ivies leaves students with the impression that they are special, but not clear about the political effects of that at that age. It's not really surprising that rich people like taxes less than non-rich is it? The abstract is written in the kind of academic jargon that immediately makes one want to discount it by 25% per sentence. Many of the terms and identifiers mentioned have no objective definition. What is a campus with a "norm of financial gain?" This read like bad liberal sociology dressed up as academic bunkum. It's a whiny response the the fact that the students aren't as liberal as the professors (many will be richer), something that should be obvious and has been know for many years and doesn't need bogus analytics.

Maybe Tyler is just suggesting that it is safe for conservatives to fund higher education, after all.

(For the reasons you suggest.)

So he's rent seeking?

In the face of falling rents, perhaps. State funding continues to trend downward and Pell Grants seem to be the only thing holding up per-student spending. Pew study

I was wondering what had turned a middle-class country into a bunch of pretend aristocrats with unsustainable debts.

A nation of over remunerated middle managers.

The analysis contains nothing about what students did in college. Nothing about their major or even their particular school (Arts & Science, Engineering, etc.). If the data set doesn't have this, why not proxy for it with the proportion of the school's students in types of majors? Include "Faculty tax view" and the main result disappears (.05 significance in a regression with over 12,000 observations isn't significant). A very weak paper and, frankly, an example of poor statistical analysis.

So ... they should break the dataset into smaller sets in order to be able to reject the findings? I agree that the breakdown would be interesting, but that wasn't the question they were writing about. A large dataset is a feature, not a bug.

Large datasets are fine, but the power of the tests change with size and a significance level that may be appropriate for a small dataset is not appropriate for a large one. In this case, a 5% level is entirely inappropriate.

5% is generally accepted, regardless of sample size.

Not by competent statisticians.

Statistical significance is not the same thing as scientific significance. With an over-powered study, even slight variations can become "significant." Hopefully you collected your data properly!

Eric, it depends on what is being studied, and how much certainty we might expect given previous literature. 5% is not enough based on one study to draw strong conclusions, of course, but it is definitely enough to indicate that there's probably something going on and that more research could be warranted.

For datasets of lower quality and more confounding issues, sometimes you see researchers reporting lots of results ranging into 20%, 30%, etc. The value, of course, being that other researchers may have reason to believe that something's going on, and be able to devise a method to research the question in a way that will produce more certain results.

A noisy dependent variable and endogenous assignment of individuals to universities can make a "big" dataset small in statistical terms. There is no justification for arbitrarily setting significance levels based on how many individual observations are in the data. Experimental physicists laugh at even 1% confidence levels because their data is much less noisy and they get to perform observations under highly controlled circumstances.

The first time I did an experiment which used statistical confidence was in a physics class. And yeah, 5% would have told us something was wrong with the experiment, because we were verifying a known entity.

Dreadful piece.

How do they define "affluent"? They start using the term without saying what it means. Is it related to wealth, income, objective, self-described? Can't tell.

Similarly, what does "conservative economic policies" mean? Does that mean low taxation? Low spending? A balanced budget? Mercantilism? An increased propensity to spend on items from Brooks Brothers? Can't tell.

This is from a PhD student at Princeton? Wow.

Guy's selling his services. If it's rigorous, that's gravy. Not strictly necessary.

Finally, some evidence that college isn't just about signaling. It's also about learning some sound economics. The big takeaways from Econ 101 are often counter intuitive. Go college!

So a whole study to confirm the axiom : "If you are young and not a liberal, you have no heart. If you are old and not a conservative, you have no brain."

It's a cliche. Sorry, can't be bothered to track down the survey/study that showed it, but it seems that people get very moderately LESS conservative as the enter into their older years.

"Get off my lawn" is a liberal value! :)

I don't think the study accounted for that.

So faculty are inconsequential in forming the economic views of students. Then why do they waste time teaching this stuff? If faculty views are similarly determined, then they really ought to stop publishing this BS as well.

I grew up in a small farming town of about 10, 000 people in between Fresno and Bakersfield. That's still where I'm from. As with Neil Young, all of my changes were there.

I'd like a definition of conservative economics.

Did 1980 mark a turn from liberal economics to conservative economics? Or the opposite?

Is the growth in debt in all sectors, government, corporate, and individual debt the mark of conservative economics?

Is the reduction in investment in building capital assets that has been especially noticeable since 1980 liberal economics or conservative economics?

Is the following quote by a wealthy highly educated man liberal or conservative economics?

"The Federal Government must and shall quit this business of relief.

"I am not willing that the vitality of our people be further sapped by the giving of cash, of market baskets, of a few hours of weekly work cutting grass, raking leaves, or picking up papers in the public parks. We must preserve not only the bodies of the unemployed from destitution but also their self-respect, their self-reliance, and courage and determination."

Or this statement in his economics text of a wealthy highly educated man conservative or liberal economics?

"I feel sure that the demand for capital is strictly limited in the sense that it would not be difficult to increase the stock of capital up to a point where its marginal efficiency had fallen to a very low figure. This would not mean that the use of capital instruments would cost almost nothing, but only that the return from them would have to cover little more than their exhaustion by wastage and obsolescence together with some margin to cover risk and the exercise of skill and judgment. In short, the aggregate return from durable goods in the course of their life would, as in the case of short-lived goods, just cover their labour costs of production plus an allowance for risk and the costs of skill and supervision.

"Now, though this state of affairs would be quite compatible with some measure of individualism, yet it would mean the euthanasia of the rentier, and, consequently, the euthanasia of the cumulative oppressive power of the capitalist to exploit the scarcity-value of capital."

Nothing surprising here, for anyone who has ever been to a top/affluent school. The students there are not...contrary to what is portrayed in "conservative" media...Bernie Sanders types.

Not even close.

That being said, this is a pretty good study from a polisci department. Well done...except for one thing: what the heck is the "lagged DV" in the model? Is it prior cohort opinion? Is it the individuals themselves prior opinion?

And one can't just put in the lagged DV into the model without treating it as a dynamic panel model: i.e. the standard errors will be wrong in this case, but I didn't see them using a dynamic panel data model, but a random effects model. Not sure I buy the lagged DV thing and that may have implications for their findings.

Colleges produce employable, productive adults who work for a living. Government welfare system produces poor people who are unable to hold a job faster than we can train college educated people. What is affluent about that? This is academic nonsense.

Most of the people I've known who made use of government welfare now earn above average income. Things like single mothers going to school with extra supports, support services and access to credit for starting a business, or unemployment payouts which helped them to find a job matched to their skills instead of being forced to take the first thing that came along. I know I know, it doesn't always work out that way.

The idea of "socialization" vs "scholarly mastery" is a bit silly. How do you differentiate "associating with people that are interested in CS" from "learning CS". Obviously, if you do one you will do the other.

I look forward to the post on "signaling" being the most overrated idea in economics. Not because it isn't true (it can explain ~20% of a degree's value, examining diploma effects) but because people who mention it a sign it far more importance than is empirically provable.

Not surprising, the idea that education can guide students toward a chosen direction seems wrong. Some professors may get to a point where the more they push in one direction the more the students go the other way.

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