Colleges Are Fueling the Pandemic in a Classic Market Failure: Economic View
The New York Times: Economic View, October 8, 2020

Financial pressures explain why many campuses have brought students back. But there is a textbook solution, two economists say: government intervention.

A perfectly functioning market is a beautiful thing. It’s also vanishingly rare. The main work of economists is figuring out how to make markets function well when the messy, real world intrudes on our textbooks’ elegant models.

The pandemic, unfortunately, provides instructive examples of markets that are failing in predictable and harmful ways. The failures are particularly glaring in dozens of college towns across the United States that are coronavirus hot spots. [Read more]
Low-Income Students Lose Ground
Science, December 4, 2020

Income inequality in college attendance and graduation in the United States was troublingly large before the pandemic. Without an aggressive infusion of federal support for schools and students, these already sizable gaps will likely widen into chasms.

Historically, a poor child in the United States has had a 10% chance of eventually earning a college degree; for children from well-off families, it's over 50%. The pandemic is widening these differences, thereby increasing poverty, reducing social mobility, and stunting economic growth. Data from the National Student Clearinghouse show that first-time enrollment at colleges and universities in the United States decreased by 13% from fall 2019 to fall 2020. [Read more]