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.


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