US Equality of Opportunity Hypocrisy

Thomas PikettyThe amount of household debt and even more recently of student debt in the US is something that is really troublesome… This exemplifies a particular problem with inequality in the United States, which is very high inequality and access to higher education. So in other countries in the developed world you don’t have such massive student debt because you have more public support to higher education. And I think the plan that was proposed earlier this year in 2015 by President Obama to increase public funding to public universities and community college is exactly justified.

This is really the key for higher growth in the future and also for a more equitable growth. There’s one statistic, which I give in my book, which is a bit frightening, which is that if you look at the average income of the parents of Harvard University graduate students right now what you get is the equivalent of the average income of the top two percent of the US distribution of family income…

So this is an example which shows that you have the official discourse about meritocracy, equal opportunity and mobility — and then you have the reality. And the gap between the two can be quite troublesome. So this is like you have a problem like this and there’s a lot of hypocrisy about meritocracy in every country, not only in the US, but there is evidence suggesting that this has become particularly extreme in the United States. And of course, student debt at the other extreme of the distribution is the other side of the coin. So this is a situation that is very troublesome and should rank very highly in the policy agenda in the future in the US.

—Thomas Piketty
Big Think

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *