Economic Inequality and College Admissions Policies
24 Pages Posted: 11 Sep 2015 Last revised: 12 Jan 2017
Date Written: September 10, 2015
As economic inequality in the United States has reached unprecedented heights, reformers have focused considerable attention on changes in the law that would provide for greater equality in wealth among Americans. More equitable tax policies, fairer workplace regulation, and more generous spending policies would do much to promote equity.
But there is even more to gain by revising college admissions policies. Admissions policies at the Ivy League and other elite American colleges greatly exacerbate the problem of economic inequality. Accordingly, reforming those policies may represent the most effective strategy for restoring a reasonable degree of economic equality in the United States.
More specifically, elite universities can do much to promote economic equality by adopting “top class rank” admissions policies. Indeed, some public universities already have adopted top class rank policies, though primarily in order to promote student body diversity. While the impact on student diversity is a key feature of top rank policies, this article focuses on their ability to turn elite universities from institutions that exacerbate economic inequality into institutions that foster economic equality.
Keywords: economic inequality, college admissions, top class rank, affirmative action
JEL Classification: D19, H41, I29, I31, K39
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation