By Alan Bean
Charles Murray took so much flak for controversial The Bell Curve that he decided to write a book about white people rooted in much the same argument.
Coming Apart, a book about the diverging fortunes of upper and lower class white Americans, begins where The Bell Curve ended. The big factor driving the growing gap between the educated and the uneducated, Murray suggests, is “cognitive homogamy”, the fact that individuals with similar cognitive ability are having children.
In the old world, Murray says, most people lived and died in rural communities and small towns. The smartest males might have left home for a few years of college, but they generally returned to marry the prettiest (not necessarily the smartest) girl in town. The result, kids of normal cognitive ability. Wealth was distributed largely on the basis of inheritance, not ability and the kids at Harvard weren’t much smarter than the kids at a good state school.
Since the early 1960s, however, smart people have been marrying other smart people and having smart kids. The sons and daughters of these blessed unions have increasingly clustered in segregated neighborhoods in which “everybody has a bachelor’s or graduate degree and works in high-prestige professions or management or is married to such a person.” Among this new elite, wealth is distributed on the basis of merit, the elite colleges compete for the brightest and the best and lesser institutions make do with students who will never be ready for prime time. (more…)