College Education Is Not a Public Good

George Leef

In a recent column, University of Chicago professor Luigi Zingales argued that we'd be better off if government stopped subsidizing higher education and we moved toward a system whereby students pay for it out of their future earnings -- the human capital contract idea. His column drew a reply from Richard Kahlenberg, who was upset at the idea that higher education is a private good. He says it's a public good that we all benefit from, so society should subsidize it. That dispute is the backdrop for my Clarion Call this week. I side with Zingales. We will get the optimal level of both education and training if we leave it up to the self-interest of individuals. Conversely, if government gets involved, we will have great waste of time and money with no gain in education. Subsidizing higher education simply diverts resources away from more beneficial uses.



Image: Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain

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