Economics Matters by Laurence Kotlikoff
Economics Matters by Laurence Kotlikoff Podcast
Legacy Admissions and Upward Mobility: Insights with John Friedman

Legacy Admissions and Upward Mobility: Insights with John Friedman

John is one of our country's leading economists. Together with co-authors, Jon has done pathbreaking work on a range of topics in public finance and education, including college admissions, the impact of teachers, intergenerational mobility, the economic impacts of COVID, healthcare costs, and the list goes on. His most recent study with Raj Chetty and David Deming -- Diversifying America’s Leaders? The Determinants and Causal Effects of Admissions at Highly Selective Private Colleges -- delivers a huge dirty secret. It's not minorities, but children of rich graduates of elite universities that are being favored by Harvard and other elite institutions. And this favoritism extends to the job market. Graduates of elite schools are far more likely to become top CEOs, Supreme Court Justices, American presidents, and the list goes on. 

In This Episode:

I sit down with John Friedman, a towering figure in the world of economics. As a distinguished economist at Brown University, co-director of Opportunity Insights, and an influential researcher frequently cited for his insights on inequality and education policy, John's pedigree is unmatched when it comes to discussing the barriers faced by disadvantaged youths. A celebrated thought leader, Friedman has shone a light on the pressing issues within America's education system, making him the perfect authority to delve into the complicated web of admissions policies and economic mobility.

Topics Covered:

  • The unsettling realities of legacy admissions at elite schools and their preferential treatment toward students from high-income families

  • Innovative educational methods

  • The lingering impacts of the pandemic on education

  • A nuanced discourse on the thorny issue of race and education

  • You will gain a comprehensive understanding of the education landscape, the factors driving inequality, and the potential solutions that could promote upward mobility.


05:53 Elite universities may limit leadership potential diversity.

07:43 Income disparities impact access to educational institutions.

11:15 Legacy boost benefits high-income families more.

16:31 Universities should fight inequality, improve admissions policies.

20:27 Legacy preferences perpetuate socioeconomic inequality in universities.

23:51 Supreme Court justices from Ivy League schools.

26:10 Attending elite schools leads to major benefits.

28:52 Focusing on top earners and school selection.

33:37 Individual circumstances, not just demographic checkboxes matter.

37:25 Schools balance academics and student diversity goals.

40:43 Race-based opportunity disparities faced by children.

43:00 Dictator for a year can change education.

46:50 Invest in recurring education improvements to address disparities.

52:07 Importance of technology and in-person schooling.

54:01 Schools adapted to support student needs through pandemic.


Take the guesswork out of financial decisions at every stage of life with Maxifi: ⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠. Designed by Economist Laurence Kotlikoff.

Economic Matters - The podcast is hosted by Laurence Kotlikoff and moderated by Alex Kotlikoff.

Laurence Kotlikoff is a Boston University Economist, a NY Times Best Selling Author, President of, and Author of Money Magic.

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Economics Matters by Laurence Kotlikoff
Economics Matters by Laurence Kotlikoff Podcast
Economics can make a massive difference - collectively and personally. Listen in as we chat with some of the most influential leaders in economics across the globe.