May 20th, 2014
12:24 PM ET

What I'm reading: Higher education more and more stratified

By Fareed Zakaria

“‘The good news is that more and more kids are going to college,’ said Carnevale, the director of Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce. ‘The bad news is that higher education is becoming more and more stratified,’” writes Frank Bruni in the New York Times.

“In 2011, the most recent year for which figures are available, roughly 75 percent of the students at the 200 most highly rated colleges came from families in the top quartile of income, he said. Only 5 percent came from families in the bottom quartile, and while that’s up from 3 percent in 1994, it’s no huge advance or cause to rejoice.

“Carnevale told me that since 1994, 80 percent of the white young men and women in this country who have headed off to college have gone to schools ranked in the top 500 by Barron’s. But 75 percent of the black and Latino young men and women who have entered college over the same period have gone to two-year or open-admissions schools outside the top 500.”


“To a certain extent, [the] lack of enthusiasm is hard-wired into the structure of the European Union. For starters, the European Parliament has not traditionally had much power,” argues Tom Clougherty in Reason. “It still can't initiate legislation, which is the sole preserve of the European Commission, the EU's permanent bureaucracy. What's more, the European Parliament—which houses representatives from more than 100 national parties, grouped into 12 European parties, and then grouped again into seven different alliances – feels very remote to most voters. What power the European Parliament does have is often exercised through back-room deals concluded by politicians the voters don't know, on behalf of parties and alliances they've never heard of. A vibrant democracy this most certainly is not.”

“And yet the 2014 elections – which begin on Thursday in the UK and the Netherlands – may be different.”


“Would You Kill the Fat Man? is the title of a recent book about a set of moral problems that philosophers like to ponder, and psychologists to put to their experimental subjects,” writes The Economist. “In the canonical form, you are on a footbridge watching a trolley speeding down a track that will kill five unsuspecting people. You can push a fat man over the bridge onto the tracks to save the five.”

“…Most people quail at the idea of shoving the man to his death. But alter the scenario a bit, and reactions change…[And] there are other ways to nudge people’s judgments, too. A rather counter-intuitive one was reported in a paper published last month in PLOS ONE, a journal. In it, Albert Costa of the Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Spain, and his colleagues, found that the language in which the dilemma is posed can alter how people answer. Specifically, when people are asked the fat-man question in a foreign language, they are more likely to kill him for the others’ sake.”

“Dr. Costa and his colleagues interviewed 317 people, all of whom spoke two languages – mostly English plus one of Spanish, Korean or French. Half of each group were randomly assigned the dilemma in their native tongue. The other half answered the problem in their second language. When asked in their native language, only 20 percent of subjects said they would push the fat man. When asked in the foreign language, the proportion jumped to 33 percent.”


soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. John Smith

    America is the root of all terror. America has invaded sixty countries since world war 2.
    In 1953 America overthrow Iran's democratic government Mohammad Mosaddegh and installed a brutal dictator Shah. America helped Shah of Iran to establish secret police and killed thousands of Iranian people.
    During Iran-Iraq war evil America supported Suddam Hossain and killed millions of Iranian people. In 1989, America, is the only country ever, shot down Iran's civilian air plane, killing 290 people.
    In 2003,America invaded Iraq and killed 1,000,000+ innocent Iraqi people and 4,000,000+ Iraqi people were displaced.
    Now America is a failed state with huge debt. Its debt will be 22 trillion by 2015.

    May 20, 2014 at 12:42 pm |
    • rupert

      @ john smith. I hope u get colon cancer and die, very slowly.

      May 21, 2014 at 3:11 am |
  2. Joe Stoddart

    It was certainly true 40 years ago when I found myself in a very small minority at a very selective school. Similarly, most of those from better homes also went on to advanced degrees at the very best graduate schools, bankrolled by professional parents with lots of dough.

    May 20, 2014 at 3:21 pm |
  3. John Smith

    Unmarried Childbearing (Data are for the U.S.)
    Number of live births to unmarried women: 1,609,619
    Birth rate for unmarried women: 45.3 births per 1,000 unmarried women aged 15-44 years
    Percent of all births to unmarried women: 40.7%
    Too many Ba$t@rds in America.

    May 20, 2014 at 4:56 pm |
    • rupert

      @john smith. According to my crystal ball, u have colon cancer with only 8 months to live. U will die very very slowly and painfully. Then reside in hell for 1000 years with satan. Then u will be reincarnated into earth as a gay pig.

      May 21, 2014 at 3:15 am |
  4. chri§§y

    Guess you would know @ John Smith! And for the record most of the Ba$t@rds i know have parents married to each other!!! Grow up already!

    May 20, 2014 at 5:01 pm |
  5. chri§§y

    And i guess you need to get the stats on DEADBEAT dads in your little rant! In the name of fairness!

    May 20, 2014 at 5:04 pm |
  6. chri§§y

    No luck on that stat search huh? I could tell you. 62% of custodial mothers dont recieve child support...however unlike you im not so dense as to blame it strictly on MALES the way you blamed FEMALES! There are alot of variables...fathers deceased, or both parents live together etc. Simply put @ John Smith...stop being a bigot...its not attractive and only ends up biting you in the derierre!

    May 20, 2014 at 9:43 pm |
  7. Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

    Many USA citizens who work at the top level of my field represent minority groups. They are usually graduates of one of the two best music schools, where their admission and geaduation were unrelated to their parents' level

    May 21, 2014 at 8:15 am |
  8. chri§§y

    Not Joey!

    May 21, 2014 at 9:40 am |
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

      @ chrissy,
      Incorrect. I did post that.
      Also, there SHOULD be a difference between a doctorate from Juilliard and one from Ole Miss.

      May 21, 2014 at 9:58 am |
  9. chri§§y

    The Joey i know does not make spelling errors...and if he does he acknowleges them!

    May 21, 2014 at 10:19 am |
  10. chri§§y

    Lol umm "geaduation?" lmao

    May 21, 2014 at 7:58 pm |
  11. chri§§y

    Lmao was surprised you missed it.

    May 22, 2014 at 5:27 pm |
  12. new board games

    What i don't realize is in reality how you're now not actually much more smartly-liked than you might be right now. You are so intelligent. You already know thus significantly in the case of this matter, produced me individually imagine it from a lot of numerous angles. Its like men and women aren't fascinated except it's one thing to accomplish with Lady gaga! Your personal stuffs great. Always maintain it up!

    April 13, 2018 at 1:10 pm |
  13. Elisha

    Hey! This post could not be written any better! Reading through
    this post reminds me of my good old room mate! He always kept chatting
    about this. I will forward this write-up to him. Pretty
    sure he will have a good read. Many thanks for sharing!

    My website: plus solar systems sdn bhd

    December 8, 2020 at 11:41 am |

Post a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.