Bryan Caplan is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center and a professor of economics at George Mason University. Bryan joins Policy@McCombs to discuss his recent book, The Case Against Education.
- Bryan CaplanSenior Research Fellow and Professor of Economics, George Mason University
Welcome to the Policy McCombs podcast, a data driven conversation on the economic
issues of the day. In this series, we invite guests into our studio to provide a highlight
of their work presented during a visit to the University of Texas at Austin Policy. Emma
Combs is produced by the Center for Enterprise and Policy Analytics at the McCombs School of Business.
Our guest today is Bryan Caplan, professor of economics at George Mason University. Bryan writes
on multiple topics and economics and is the author of some of my favorite books, including The Myth of the Rational Voter
and Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids. Bryan joins us today to talk about his most recent book, The Case
Against Education. Welcome to Policy McCombs, Ryan. Thanks so much for having me. So let’s start with
a summary of the argument in the book. Yes, what I say is that contrary to the popular view that
education raises people’s earnings and helps their careers by pouring lots of skills on them,
I say a lot of what’s going on is just that you’re getting certified, you’re getting a stamp on your head, which makes employers interested
in hiring you. So the simplest way that I like to put it is that to a large extent, education isn’t really
job training, rather. Education is a passport to the real job training which occurs on
the job. So if you want to actually learn how to do much of anything, you ought to first spend many
years in school studying subjects, most of which will never be used again after the final exam. And then finally,
you get a certificate which employers take seriously to give you a chance. And once they let you into this world
of work, then you actually learn how to do something. So let’s clarify
this on using some jargons from from economics on on the discussion here. When you
say skills or we’re talking economics as about human capital. So human capital formation and
what you pointing here in terms of credential is this idea of signaling. That’s right. Runs by by the numbers that
you would I would summarize in the book and breaking down the evidence on on those camps.
Sure. So it’s a super hard question and there’s no one piece of evidence that really is definitive.
But I did spend six years just reading and working on this and trying to figure out
what seemed like the video, like the most likely answer. So in the end, when I come down to is
out of the genuine causal effect of education on earnings, about 20 percent
of that represents real skill formation. And the reigning 80 percent, I say, comes down to the signaling
of getting the stamp on your head saying no, great a worker or a grade B worker or whatever. And when you say
of the causal effect, you’re already discounting the ability by. So how much how much of that premium of education
could be a tribute to the ability by. Right. That’s correct. So, again, another tough issue and you’re going to, you know, just just
for readers who haven’t heard about it. So you’ll go one way that you could figure out how much is education,
raise your earnings just to look at the average earnings of college graduates compared to the average earnings of high school graduates and say
the difference is the cost is whatever education causes. But that seems like a heroically
optimistic assumption because people who go to college are not randomly selected people. They’re generally people that better
test scores, better performance, poverty, better discipline and so on. So what I what I say and what you know, which
is really a standard view is that you need to make some adjustments before you go to the raw average
in order to come up with a credible claim about how much has really cost by the education. So
I say a reasonable view is that about 45 percent of this apparent pattern is just illusion.
And so then you’re left with 55. But again, it’s not that I’m particularly married to that number, but it just seems
like the most reasonable thing, given all the evidence that I had at the time I wrote the book. So what distinguishes
this view from the standard view in labor economics and what what do you bring into the discussion that I think is
different than what traditional economists would would look into in when making their assessment of the value
of education? Right. So the big difference is that while all labor education economists would know
about the IDF signaling for almost all of them, it’s just a theoretical idea, which is cute. And
you know, it’s something you have some homework problems on, but they don’t really take it seriously. And I do take it very seriously
now as to why I take it so seriously. And they doubt think the main reason is that most economists only
want to focus on the effects of education, on earnings, on your career.
And I want to go and say, well, look, let’s go and see what people are actually studying. Let’s see what people are actually learning
so we can get an idea about how plausible it is that what they’re studying and learning really is actually
causing them to acquire more job skills. I mean, for a lot of economists, it’s like they just say, well, that’s not
we do. And since we don’t do it, we don’t need to worry about it. And I say we had a really well, we need if we if
we if we’re not doing it ourselves, then we need to go and heavily read the people that are doing it. And there are
fields, your educational psychology especially. And then there’s you know, there’s also the field called education. And they
do a lot of work on learning and retention and relevance. And
I say when you go and read them, they realize that the standard economy know. Economists view that
it’s all at least almost all human capital just really doesn’t add up. Just what people are setting is just too different
compared to what they would ever do. So a lot of the statements you’re making a statement is on average
that on average perhaps signally would be responsible for 80 percent of the premium that we see in education.
But are there subgroups or subsets of students that might benefit differently from the system that we currently have in place?
Are there is any evidence that you can tell us about that? Right. So, I mean, I’d say, you know, the most obvious thing is that
the elite like Yale for for K-through-12, like the you know, the you know, the literacy and numeracy
parts are almost certainly more useful. The labor market than the other stuff. Just because you actually
use reading, writing and math on a lot of jobs and on the other hand, most the other subject are studying,
you just will never use. So he’s gonna break it down by subject. Then I think there’s almost no doubt if you’re doing
it by major all in college, that it is a bit more complicated. It is very tempting
to say that engineering is a higher human capital share, but then you realize, well, they also make
a lot more money than other people in other majors. So it might just be that they get a larger total
amount of skill, but maybe the share is an especially great. And again, you know, like why would there
even be any doubt? Like, isn’t engineering just like a constant scale formation process? Any
of the answer is when you really talk to people in allegedly vocational majors, you find that they, too, waste a lot of time on
things that aren’t very useful. So you my dad’s pushing engineering and most of what he did
in grad school was proofs. And once he’s done with the program, he never proved anything again. That’s just not what
you do for money unless you’re a professor. So, I mean, my guess is he boy, you almost certainly there are
differences. And my guess is that it does go in the direction in the direction. There are stereotypes
who have a say, like Stam probably has a higher share of human capital than, say, humanities,
although, you know, even there another good thing to remember is that most STEM majors don’t even work in STEM.
Right. Saying the number is, you know, something like half of engineers, grilli like people’ve engineering degrees or currently working
in engineering. And about 80 percent of STEM people don’t even work in STEM. They do things like finance.
So in there, they’re using some of their math there. But still most of what you learn in physics you end up using
on Wall Street. You go back to your dad. Surely he in-play my professor had also back on
here. Surely by proving theorems he learned how to learn. He became a better thinker. He became about a learner.
Wouldn’t you agree with that? Right. I mean, on the one hand, it’s very tempting. And especially for professor, it’s like,
well, I mean, I magic. So when I teach something, everyone requires wonderful
skills, even if they don’t use exactly the thing that I taught them. But, you know, I say is this. This is one of the
most or the one of the little longest research topics in educational psychology. Them are working on it for
over a century. And if you go and read them, they generally are very pessimistic about this idea of learning how
to learn and learning how to think. It’s just hard to find much evidence that it really occurs. It seems like in
the real world, despite professors wishes, the best case scenario is really the students learn
what you teach them. And the idea there’s all of these indirect ripple effects and so on.
There’s just very little evidence that actually occurs. You know, I have no doubt that it happened sometimes.
It’s just that when you go and collect research data, it’s so rare that you can’t find
it. There you have it. I would say, like anytime you actually meet someone who does original research,
of course, in some sense they learned how to think. And they’re applying that to their job. But so at least
the at least the minimum, maybe they don’t learn anything, but they know how to think. Right. Could it really not be
that they were there was literally talk to them. But anyway, they other there are rare individuals with where they have
these remarkable powers of synthesis. But that’s so rare that we just they we
there’s just no el-laithy. It’s just hard for researchers say much about it. Moonlite like, you know, like I is mentioning in my talk yesterday,
you like when I speak to practicing research scientists about things that are outside of
their area of expertise, they very rarely use the scientific method on anything except the exact thing
that they work on. So when you go and talk to your biologists who don’t
work on nutrition about nutrition and say like if you like experimentally, what do we even really know
about the effect of nutrition on health? Im usually people of that that are even our scientists sort of repeat what they
hear on television even though they know that. Wait a second. Like you said, you’re on television. Like what does that
come from it? You know, it comes from a commission that had had no experimental evidence because of course, it’s really hard to
get any experimental evidence on on human nutrition. You’re not going to go and randomly assigned
half the people in the country or even in a study to get bread or not get bread and then see what it does to their health.
So it’s very speculative ultimately. And like, you know, even Leila, you know, here’s thing is that
there’s a lot of observational work in the world where you just measure things that actually exist and then try
t._v.’s, not experimental. Try to do some Cecille inference to figure out what’s going on for something like nutrition. Wheat can’t even
do anything remotely as good as that because we know what even a observationally know what people are eating
like. There’s no measurement of this. How many people are keeping a diary on what they ate yesterday, much less for the years they would
take an annual course, would have to go back many decades if you want to measure, say, the effect of nutrition on how long you live.
Well, you know, if we started a study on this today, the best study in the world, we still wouldn’t have answers for 10
or 20 years. So we don’t need to just pick on one set a professor or somebody that you talk to. We can look at our
system of universities and how we think about changing curricula and make every 10 years, for example, just going through one
here at the McCombs School, one never wants to run an experiment, say, okay, what really works
to impair knowledge to our students? Let’s try to apply the scientific method to figure out how to best do our job and
we just don’t do it. Yeah, cause I mean, if any one school you might just say, well, it’s just too hard for
us to go and run the study ourselves beyond just the fact that there is that it hasn’t been done on a large scale by
some. What else and then we just go and order the box and open the box up and do it or do what it says in the box.
There’s a lot of things going on here. I mean, first and foremost, even if we had the best evidence in the world, a professor
is an artist. You can’t tell an artist what to do. Hell, yes, he is entitled. But as a matter
of the very nature professor thing to enter the room and explore his individuality.
Right. So that’s the freeley like the ultimate roadblock is that the professors would
just feel like they’re entitled to be to do whatever they want. And of course, as for answer, I love
this fact. This is what got me into this thing. But I don’t want someone telling me they’ve looked at the evidence
and they know what works. I want to be me. All right. But so this other is that. Yeah, you know, it
is hard be Alevi. Ultimately, there’s just a fundamental irresponsibility to the whole system where people
just aren’t expected to demonstrate performance. And and then if anyone asked them,
they would get mad about it. And then this gives us this illusion of certainty that like each person
knows what’s best for them and like like what are the odds that that’s true? That would be amazing. Like, how does each
person figure out the way things are that are best for them? Well, I like healing. Unless, of course,
you’re only standard is whatever I like is what is best. So. So you know your nearest
professor. I’m in-universe a professor. I think I have at least the hope that I could do something
to improve this and help our students a little bit better. Have you had any luck working with your department
or or ideas around Mason or ideas that you have that you know, even within the current system that
could help us perhaps do a little bit better and Berrien and pouring in skills and art
into our students? Yeah. I mean, I really want to say. Yes. And
usually I yeah, I can say, well, I get very good teaching evaluations. But really though though. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah. You know,
they’re they’re a great measure of how happy students are in class. I think early least a good measure of how happy and
how happy the students that bother to show up to felt the evaluations are anyway. So there’s that
mean in terms of you actually getting people to learn. I mean I mean I’d feel
in my heart like I have very good techniques for highly motivated students. And
as for the remaining 80 or 90 percent of students, I can’t honestly say that I think my methods are
especially effective in terms of teaching me the area where I would honestly say that I put the most effort
into actually getting high levels, learning as I homeschool my older signs for them. I just know like I’m
just a lot more attentive to what’s going on. And I do actually just try more things and
see how it ends and see what works for them. Media partly course, because they’re my kids and I just care about them more
than on my other students. It’s just the truth, but I don’t think is the end. The my you know, my sons are so
motivated that when I come up with something that is a pain in the neck, but it is about it. But it clearly works
better. You know, things like having lots of testing with lots of detailed feedback. And this is something where there
is a good research literature saying that your first test or your test, early test often.
And then secondly, give detailed feedback, especially on mistakes, especially a mistake.
So in probably the biggest time sink in my homeschooling is I read what they write very
carefully and then I go over it line by line with my red pen and you and me talk about
it and then do it again and again and again. Would I be willing to do this for my regular students if they were motivated?
If they were motivated than I would it would be a lot of work. But if they if I had the gratitude of the students
in appreciation. Thank you so much, because you’re really, really working with me to improve, then I do it. But
to go and gets deal. Students were almost none of them want to do that work. And then to still try. You say
you’re like, you’re gonna come to my office and are going to work with you for now or every week for a bunch of students who don’t really care.
You know, I like that’s the kind of thing I just don’t feel like doing. And, you know, I I understand why you would meet other
girls, but we’re like, okay, how technology? Isn’t that something that could help us with this? I mean, I
we see things like academy, right. That allows me to practice different days and get feedback on the go and
order things that are successful in doing that and somehow helping us in that mission at the higher
education level. I haven’t seen it. I haven’t tried it. Yeah. Yeah. So in terms of actual research evidence and you think most technology,
the classroom is just another fad where someone gets really excited about it. And as to what the evidence
actually is, I haven’t looked it into it in great detail. My understanding is that
you, for example, you know, people love PowerPoint slide shows, but there’s actually evidence that actually that is
that it’s least not better than just doing it the old way and maybe even worse because it’s just too easy.
Right. Any and all. A lot of a lot of of of what’s educational psychologist will say about learning is that
if somewhat you leave a lot of what educational side social psychology will say about learning is
that if someone is to relax and comfortable, they don’t learn much because they’re just kicking back.
Right. So you want people to be lingham moderately challenged, at least just to get their attention.
And then you things like slide shows probably dispute. You’ve just put them in this. Relax her mind. Better to make
them go and you squint their eyebrows a bit and pay attention to bets in the ISO. So
there’s that. So let’s before we turn into policy implications of Seita with your work,
let let me let me close this part of this. Russian with. I think the thought experiment and you have
it now clarifies a lot. What was the idea of signally is? I think I’m paraphrasing you
hear a little bit. So would you rather have a Princeton education without a degree or a degree without education?
Right. So so. Yeah, yeah. I mean, that’s it. And this is a question where even I would say it, I’m not totally
sure what the right answer is besides the fact the have to think about it shows that my basic point is right. I’m not saying that there’s no
useful skill formation going on at school at all, but I’m saying that a lot of what you learn is not ever going to be useful
except insofar as it puts a stamp on your head and gets you a job. And you they all like a nice contrast
with this is if you were stranded on it, stranded on a desert island. And I asked you so which you’d rather have
knowledge of boat building or a boat building degree? There would be no question. Well, what good
does not as a boat building degree do me on an island Zilly lately. Let’s look. What a stupid question. Obviously
I want to have the skills, but a labor market, it’s quite different. And again, that’s because it’s social.
So it Elek, everybody knows that there’s some employee at their firm who doesn’t really
cut it right. And in fact, I often will ask my students say, why out of people you have jobs.
Raise your hand if there’s some employee at your firm that everyone knows is incompetence and almost every hand of every
person with a job goes up. So, you know, it’s obviously true that you can be
incompetent, but as long as society grants CIA station, you can enjoy the material benefits
of it without actually contributing. And then similarly, I think a lot of that’s a lot of what’s going on. The education is
that people get degrees that are better than they really are, and they use this to go and get a better position.
They they’re better than they really deserve. And a lot of people say, well, in the end, that’s all going to bounce out. And I’ll say,
well, maybe. But it’s another empirical question and you’ll reason to be skeptical is just
that. It’s so common today when a worker is not performing well to basically conspire
with the bad employee against their next employer, to pretend that everything is great and then
shove them off onto somebody else. There’s even a word for it in the professional research or research on
termination or there’s also practitioners especially. And you know, they call it D hiring, D hiring,
not firing. We’re not saying you’re fired. Get out of here. We’re saying we encourage you to seek better
opportunities elsewhere. And if someone calls, we’ll talk about how good you are. And that way
you’ll be somebody else’s problem. And by the time they find out, you know, they they’ve named the puppy, you know, they know you
as a human being. And then a lot of places will be reluctant to get rid of you just because you’re poor performer, some
of which is it is based upon fear of lawsuits. But a lot of it just fundamental humanity of
people don’t like firing people. All right, Samuel, you’re very ill. You know, there’s research on how does firing actually
work. You know, like a lot of my fellow economists basically just picture the second afirm realizes that they pay you more
than you produce. They get rid of you. And that just doesn’t seem like the way the real world works. There’s a lot of you know, some
firms may be like that, but a lot of firms, basically, they just don’t like firing people. And they may not give you
good raises. They may yo yo a fire you or lay you off when the next recession
hits. But as long as the firm is making money, there’s a lot of jobs, words where termination is very rarely occurs.
OK. So not now moving two to two policy. Quoting from the book here, you say
that the educational social return ranges from mildly below market to dramatically below market.
And I think that leads to your main policy implications from from the work run. Run us through that. Yeah.
So in terms of social return, this is when economists go and try to measure the payoff of education, but not just
take into account the benefits and costs for the student, but taking the benefits and costs for society into account.
Now, the key feature of the state of the signaling model is that the benefits the individual of education
exceed the benefits to society because in the signaling
model, education is a way to get a better job, even though your extra scale or your scale is
not increased very much. Now, again, why would employers do this? Because the degree certifies
your scale. It convinces them that you have the scale. And that is a perfectly good reason.
To hire a person and pay them more money is that you have been convinced of their scale. It is a profit maximizing strategy
to hire people once they convince you of their skill. Doesn’t really matter to the employer about how
you actually acquire the skill, whether it happened in school or elsewhere. As long as you’ve got it and you’ve convinced them, that’s a reason
for them to pay you and for the individual that it doesn’t matter that much why they’re getting the extra money. But the
point of your society matters strenuously, because if you get a piece of paper that convinces the world of your skill,
without this actually changing your contribution to society, then essentially this
means that your raise is redistributive. You have gotten your raise at the expense of other people, because if you didn’t learn
how to increase the production of mankind in school, then when your salary goes up and mankind’s
production did not, obviously the only place that your money could have come from is really from other
people. Right. So that’s why the social return is lower than the selfish.
Now, what can be done about this? Only one possibility is we could just totally reform the schools
so they teach a lot more skills. Right. Which is theoretically doable. But I just
say that’s it, given that the system that we’ve had has been around. In place for so long. Given that it’s so entrenched,
just not very realistic to expect it to reform itself significantly. This is where I say, you know, is a much
better approach to simply cut the spending, right? To cut the spending in a word,
austerity. Austerity, which I know is a word that is usually used abusively to say all you.
This is terrible. It’s austerity. But I like the word and I like the idea. m.E. Austerity
is just common sense. It’s just you go to your dad and say, I want 50 bucks. And he says, why?
What do you need it for? What he’s spending it on, what to do, what happened, the last money. I mean, this is not
the attitude that people enjoy, but it is a very functional and practical attitude.
It is the attitude that avoids wasteful spending. Right. It avoids throwing billions of dollars
for a way for nothing. And I think, you know, from a social point of view, Suyin, like me, my
big proposal for education is austerity. Looking at schools very closely and saying, what do you need that money
for? What are you really delivering for it? Right. And again, Neal alyx is like some assessment.
Are we we should improve it. Say, well, look, improvement would be great, but I just don’t trust the system at all because
they’ve been shamelessly wasting so much money for so long. And also when I talk to educators like they
are very much like the old professors that I know, like, you know, they have this illusion of of
omniscience where they think that everything they’re doing is already great and that people should just bowed down to them and say, oh, you’re so
wonderful. Thank you so much. So, you know, I say that when you’re dealing with people like that, the best approach
is to say, look, you waste my money, I’m not going to give it to anymore. If you say that you’re going to improve,
do it improve first and then we’ll come back and have a conversation about whether or not we’re
going to go and restore your funding. So said that that is the big thing I talk about is
just spending less money. And what is the purpose of this? The purpose of this is to get people
to start adult life at an earlier age. So, in fact, people used to actually be in their
jobs at a much younger age. And this is true not just for jobs that genuinely require many
years of training in order to be able to do the job. This is also true for all kinds of jobs where
they seem to be no more complicated than they were 70 years ago. So, you know, like like
there are now many jobs, Ali, like wader right. Aureole even a cashier where a lot
of the people with the jobs now have college degrees. And as I pointed out, those jobs are easier today. Today.
Emily Leelee, some of them deal is complicated by yelling. And you many these jobs are easier than they were in the past because
of one obvious analogy. So why is it that you need a college degree in order to get the
job but your parents or grandparents didn’t? This is called credential inflation, and when people measure,
especially sociologists, the main ones measure it. They find that there’s been enormous credential inflation
over the last 70 years. And so the like, the humane reason why people have more education days is not that
is really required to do the jobs they have. It’s just that it’s required to get the jobs. And again, this very much fits with the signaling
model where if you want to convince employers you’re in the top 25 percent of the distribution workers,
you need to have credentials that make it look that way, even if the credentials are not really very relevant to the job.
So the way that I like to put it is our ideal society should not be one where everyone can go to college easily.
It should be one where you can get a good job right out of high school. And we used to have this world. We used to have this world.
And I say we can have it back because it’s not the case that changing technology is the main reason why
people spend more time in school. The main reason why people spend more time in school is because other people are spending
more time in school. And if you want to get a good job, you’ve got to do it too, or else employers are gonna throw your application
away. So that austerity is the really big implication. It’s the one that people that follows almost directly
out of the arguments. And yet it’s also the one that people resist most aggressively. But
spending more in education is a bipartisan. It’s totally bipartisan. Certainly never cut. Right. Right. As you
know, as soon as you say cut this, we’re doing it now. We should definitely shouldn’t cut a single dime. It’s like, wow,
what an amazingly a functional political system we have that we should never cut a dime. The
voting system was perfect. Yeah, right. Analogizing the right amount of resources for that activity. Right.
Any idea other you know, and for a lot of this stuff is a lot like yellow oil. You always say they are. The key part of the argument for austerity
is that when we look at the very poor performance, the system, it’s not poor performance
because we’ve only put a small amount of effort in or for small resources. It’s poor performance despite
putting in enormous amounts of resources. So for language education, which is one of my pet peeves.
So in United States, less than 1 percent of American adults even claim to have learn to speak
a foreign language very well in school. And yet they generally have spent two or three years studying it. So
you essentially have almost nothing to show for two or three years. So when when when people look at that
and say, okay, fine, we haven’t done well so far. We just need to redouble our efforts. Like how many years do we have? Two kids
have to spend not learning a foreign language. No. No more money. If you want to go
and get that money, you need to demonstrate that you can take a bunch of non fluent people
and turn them into people who can at least use the language to a professional degree.
And that’s what’s going to take before you get the money, because otherwise I just don’t trust you. And no, that no sane person.
Would you have any sense how much we spend? Aggregate on foreign languages are foreign languages
specifically. Let’s see, I think I can do that. Amy Bill. Yeah. Yeah. Well, me, the Silvie basically just figures proportional
to the amount of time that students are spending on it. So we like basically the normal amount that you would spend
an American high school two years. So that would in the end then I think normally you’d have about six classes.
So let’s see. So I think that would be illegal and salute losee. So basically be about 1 twelfth
of your time in high school. We spend on foreign language. So Yabsley l saw you. I think it like a rough pass
would be one twelfth of all spending on high school. Yeah, like like you might say you like you need less in the way of resources
for it, but I don’t know your language lab stuff like that. So yeah. I mean I like I would just start with the 12th
as real really like the best way of thinking about what like how much really spending on it. Yeah. One of my
complains about about wasteful if the story of human capta made sense
was as big as as as as some people would claim wouldn’t have let our campus be idle
for 3 months of the year or. Last Friday he was like wait a second, we have
this amazing. As long as we just let it be like summer school.
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. You mean that that that is a great point. Edit It also just goes to how
much of education is is based upon. We keep doing things the same way they’ve done a hundred years ago because you so
remember there’s actually still like some fairly smart person saying it’s not true that we have summer vacation because of agriculture.
There’s some other story. But he like whatever the story is, it’s been going on for a long time. And
surely if you were finally like the only business I can think of that runs or even remotely like this
is lost mentality industry where the hell they know like like. Yeah, like there’s not gonna be ski is
skiing at the ski resorts during the during the summer. That kind of thing. But like, like for education it’s very
hard to explain actually why it’s got to be this way. So let’s wrap up with just the you mentioned briefly
something about your kids or your experience as a father. But for listeners out there thinking about what lessons they can
take themselves and thinking about their kids, education, money and insights that you gather through your research.
Yeah, sure. So I have a whole chapter on aparents. I view this literature. So you like like, you know, the main thing
is forget that you love your kid and just look at your kid the way that someone who didn’t
know him would look at him. And then if you want to really help your kid rather than feeling like nice person, give
your kid the same advice you would give to someone that wasn’t related to you, who had the same record
as your kid. Right. So most obviously for deciding whether or not your kid
should go to college, you shouldn’t think of it as my kid and whether my kids should go to college. Think of it as well. What
would be a reasonable prediction of how well someone who had the same test scores and academic performance as my kid did?
And it’s important because most people do not finish college on time. There’s a very high
non completion rate. There’s a very high rate of just taking more than four years went to to finish a four year degree,
even if you’re full time student. And this is highly relevant for whether or not it really is a good idea to go
to college, because most the pay off for college comes from graduation. So I’d say is if a reasonable
prediction is that your kid would not finish, then. It’s just not a good investment in your kids, senior kids college.
And instead you need to find something else their kid likes and is good at. Many are willing to flip out at me and to say, oh, you
and every kid. You tell your kids not to go to college. And I’ll say, yes, I would. I try to do that. I try to look
at my kids like a stranger would look at my kids, you know, a well-informed, thoughtful stranger. And if
they just not if they just did very poorly thought out high school and poor test scores, then I know that predicts
that they will not do well in college and are not likely to finish. And so it’s just not a good use even of their
time, because again, like I said so much, the payoff comes graduation. So that’s probably the
biggest piece of advice, don’t you? Also, I would advise people to see
whether their kid is going to do at least a major that has average earnings or higher. Right. So
you like business majors? Roughly the average one. Right. And then yeah. Like, you know, Stet stem does matter. But you like
not in L.A. Like when you average in all STEM. It’s not as good as you think. Really looking like the top earning majors. He’ll
electrical engineering, computer science, mechanical engineering, finance. And then, by the way, economics is usually
comes out fifth economics. I am an economics professor. So make that make the adjustment for my credibility
here. But I will say, yeah, like I think it is genuinely true. Economics is the highest paid of all
the easy majors. It is one remake almost as much as an engineer on average. For
I have to say, maybe a third or fourth of the actual work of what an electrical level what engineers are putting in.
So they know that’s a really good one. Ans let’s see similarly. Oh, says big majoy.
Then in your last piece of very practical advice is unless your kid is going to
like his, is it once pursue some very strange occupation? Then I’d say
that usually your best bet is just to go to the best public university you can get into. So private university
usually just you, unless they’re giving you some assa scholarship or something, usually isn’t worth it. Yell
at yell at them. So there’s a lot of economists who’ve correctly pointed out that if you were a stellar student from
a low income family, then you totally should go to Harvard because Harvard will pay you to go. Right. So this
is this is totally. This is true. It’s not relevant for many people. Right. But CBO betterment for most
for most people are the last thing. I would just say that. Private school is rarely worth it and certainly don’t
go and pay for some private school that is highly nonselective. Right. So you like
paying Spain $50000 a year for a school that accepts anyone who pays the money? That is almost the definition of madness
to me. Brian, thanks. Thanks so much for joining us. Awesome. Great pleasure. Great questions. Thanks a lot.