Wednesday, April 22, 2009

University as Marriage Market

Found myself quoted in a Christian Science Monitor article about David Wiley at Brigham Young University.

The premise is that most traditional face to face institutions of higher learning are becoming increasingly irrelevant and are facing extinction in their present form. Wiley suggests in another article that

Every college and university needs to adapt, he says, or they won't survive. But BYU, he notes, might be a special case. Students will likely still flock there for the two extra benefits the school offers: a religious education and the chance to meet and marry an LDS Church member.

This led me to speculate on a feature of industrial education that you don't see directly referenced in the university marketing literature but nonetheless seems to be a very important factor in choosing to attend an elite, face-to-face university. That is that you will have an opportunity to participate in a marriage market with people of your own (or higher)socio-economic status, your class, religion. A common pronouncement of the defenders of face-to-face education is that it allows you to build lifelong networks and this maybe true but it is becoming more likely that your networks will need to be beyond a limited geographic sphere.

Similarly, you might want to try another way to meet your mate. One of my favorite writers ( and no-holds-barred critical thinker) these days, Joe Bageant talks about the great American hologram the "feast of bullshit and spectacle: the great American media mind warp",a collective illusion carefully manufactured and maintained.

One aspect of this is the Disney illusion of "one true love' someday my prince will come, your destined mate. But it really doesn't happen that way.
More likely parents want their offspring to go to university to meet a nice girl or boy with good genes, finances and prospects. That may well be a major benefit, however it has nothing to do with education. Given that many institutions of higher learning operated with public funds it appears these funds are being directed towards activities that don't have much to do with higher learning.

It might not even be the best way to select a mate if divorce statistics are considered. It might even be better to use an online dating service for mate selection although theses services may be to new to be able to make any judgments about the relative longevity of marriages that began as online relationships.

So far from the spontaneous process of finding your one true love and "just knowing that he/she was the ONE" is an illusion. People are much more calculating in their choice although they don't admit it to themselves or others.

Checking out this article.

Chiappori, P., Iyigun, M., & Weiss, Y. (2006, November). Investment in schooling and the marriage market. Discussion paper, . Retrieved April 22, 2009, from

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