How the invisible hand points students to a job

They are easy to spot. A certain glaze over the pupils; quick, frequent glances this way and that; puzzled pauses before adjusting course and setting out again in another direction: first year university and college students look so terribly lost during the first few days of school because, in fact, they are.

And quite understandably so: finding the right place to be at the right time is no small matter in a sea of thousands.

But surely the really difficult thing to figure out is not where you should be, but rather what you should be? Engineer or electrician? Anthropologist or accountant? Lab technician or teacher? Make a wrong turn in these hallways and you will pay for years.

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Why does health in early life matter?

Children are less healthy at birth when they are born to low income families, and their health in early life echoes into adulthood determining the chances of success and independence decades later.

It is well known that humble beginnings are a handicap, argues Janet Currie of Princeton University, but careful analysis is needed to understand the mechanisms and to appreciate the extent to which health status at birth causes longer run outcomes associated with success in adulthood.

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Social mobility and inequality in the UK and the US: How to slide down the Great Gatsby Curve

In a speech given this morning to announce an update on the government’s Strategy for Social Mobility, Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minster of the United Kingdom, said that “We need an open society where people choose their place”; he said that “The effect of social class and class attitudes on Social Mobility are the ghost in the machine.”; and, in summary, he said that “We are a long distance from being a classless society”.

Yet in the same breath, he also said that it is a myth to suggest that reducing inequality will promote social mobility.

This is surely an inappropriate representation of the role of inequality in determining opportunity.

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“Are We Headed toward a Permanently Divided Society?”

This is the question Isabel Sawhill of the Brookings Institution asks in a tightly written discussion of the factors relating inequality with opportunity.

Sawhill’s answer: “at current levels of inequality in the U.S. it likely does. However, this answer is qualified in several ways.”

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Inequality begets inequality, according to the Economic Report of the President

On a warm evening last spring I found myself at a dinner party in the lush suburbs of a small Ivy League town not far from New York City.

The main concern of a fellow economist was the trouble his son was having raising his new family: that would be the son living in Manhattan, the one making $10 million a year.

It appears there is a bidding war for spaces in good kindergartens and, as we all know, prices skyrocket when demand outstrips supply.

And demand has been rising. We also know that.

So the most striking claim in the Economic Report of the President for 2012 is not that the share of earnings accruing to the top 1%—a share that was about 8% during the early 1980s—stands at close to 20%. After all, this is old news, the stuff of Occupy Wall Street.

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Charles Murray, a Libertarian who worries about America coming apart along the seams of class

The major point in Charles Murray‘s book—Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010—is that the United States “is coming apart at the seams—not ethnic seams, but the seams of class.”

You can watch him summarize the major messages of his book in this February 14th interview hosted by the TVO program The Agenda.

The book has proved to be instantly provocative. Toward the end of this interview, at about 13 minutes and 50 seconds, Murray states: “I don’t do solutions very well.”

So why all the buzz?

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