Why talent sorting in Germany is flawed

I won’t double indent, but this is all from Simon Grimm:

  • German academia doesn’t have world-class universities and is self-avowedly egalitarian.

  • Without a clear top university, many talented students instead enter highly competitive medical schools to prove their ability.

  • But, as argued here, medical school is a bad default choice for these students if you care about accelerated scientific, material, and moral progress. This is for four reasons:

    1. Entering many different universities instead of one top college, talented students do not generate and thus do not profit from local agglomeration effects.

    2. Medical students aren’t allowed the intellectual flexibility to explore ideas and projects independently.

    3. Medical school takes six years, offering no intermediate degree. This locks in students’ choice of study, even if they change their minds.

    4. Lastly, practicing medicine offers small impact at the margin (i.e., talented medical students can’t add much to an already highly advanced medical system).

  • Instead, talented individuals could study subjects and enter jobs that allow them to do much more good.

  • Changing this status quo is difficult, as i) strong competition between universities is probably disliked by university administrations and ii) reforming existing universities is famously hard through entrenched bureaucratic decision-making and ensuing vetocracy. Thus, change might only be possible through affluent outsiders who launch a new, better university.


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