Mason Author Series: The Case Against Education with Bryan Caplan

The University Libraries, Mason Publishing,
and the University Bookstore

Bryan Caplan

Discussing his new book: The Case Against Education: Why the Education System is a Waste of Time and Money

Thursday, May 3
3:00-4:30 pm

Main Reading Room
Fenwick Library, Fairfax Campus

Case Against Education- book coverDespite being immensely popular—and immensely lucrative—education is grossly overrated. In The Case Against Education, Bryan Caplan argues that the primary function of education is not to enhance students’ skill but to certify their intelligence, work ethic, and conformity—in other words, to signal the qualities of a good employee. Learn why students hunt for easy As and casually forget most of what they learn after the final exam, why decades of growing access to education have not resulted in better jobs for the average worker but instead in runaway credential inflation, how employers reward workers for costly schooling they rarely if ever use, and why cutting education spending is the best remedy.

Caplan draws on the latest social science to show how the labor market values grades over knowledge, and why the more education your rivals have, the more you need to impress employers. He explains why graduation is our society’s top conformity signal, and why even the most useless degrees can certify employability. He advocates two major policy responses. The first is educational austerity. Government needs to sharply cut education funding to curb this wasteful rat race. The second is more vocational education, because practical skills are more socially valuable than teaching students how to outshine their peers.

headshot of Bryan CaplanBryan Caplan is professor of economics at George Mason University and a blogger at EconLog. He is the author of Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids: Why Being a Great Parent Is Less Work and More Fun than You Think and The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies (Princeton). He lives in Oakton, Virginia.

“Would-be students and their parents are rethinking the assumption that a good life is impossible without an expensive degree–not to mention the chase for college admission that begins at kindergarten if not before. [This new book] may help to let out a little more air.”–Naomi Schaefer Riley, Wall Street Journal


Refreshments will be provided.

The Mason Author Series is co-sponsored by the University Bookstore.