America's One-Child Policy

Jillian Bandes
Posted: Nov 23, 2010 2:58 PM
Jonathan Last's article in the September issue of the Weekly Standard shouldn't be missed -- it's a longish expose on why the U.S. is every bit as guilty as China for encouraging a downward spiral of population decline. Last has several solutions for this problem, such as tax incentives, geographical solutions, and my favorite -- a reform of the higher education system:
The modern college degree functions less as an educational tool than as a credentialing badge—a marker which gives employers a vague estimate of a person’s intelligence, social milieu, and work ability. The reason employers need this badge is that, thanks to an obscure Supreme Court case, they aren’t allowed to ask for test scores the way colleges are.

In the 1971 case Griggs v. Duke Power, the Court held that employers could not rely on IQ-type tests if minorities performed relatively poorly on them. Blacks and Hispanics display a persistent underperformance on such tests, making it impossible for employers to ask for test scores. (As the recent Ricci case proved, even a test that has been sufficiently vetted beforehand for a lack of bias can cause trouble if minorities perform poorly on it.) So employers launder their request for test scores through the college system since colleges are allowed to use such considerations. The universities get rich, students and their parents go into hock, and everyone pretends that Acme Widgets is hiring young Suzy because they value her B.A. in English from Haverford, and not because her admission to Haverford proved that she is bright—a fact that a free, three-hour written test would have demonstrated just as well. If Griggs were rolled back, it would upend the college system at a stroke.
We would also move a little bit closer to avoiding a system where a majority or more of our population is retired, wreaking havoc on our economy, budget, and social viability.