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When meritocracy wins, everybody loses

The Gray Area with Sean Illing

September 23, 2019

91 minutes

In The Meritocracy Trap, Daniel Markovits argues that meritocracy — a system set-up to expand opportunity, reduce inequality and end aristocracy — has become exactly what it was set up to combat: a mechanism for intergenerational wealth transfer that leaves everyone worse off in the process.

Markovits isn’t only challenging a system; he is challenging the system that I (and probably most of you) have been part of for our entire lives. For better or worse, Meritocracy is the water we swim in. We implicitly accept its values, practices, arguments, and assumptions because they govern our everyday lives.

This interview was a chance for me to exit the water. Maybe it will be for you as well.

Book recommendations:

The Rise of the Meritocracy by Michael Young

The Race between Education and Technology by Claudia Goldin and Lawrence F. Katz

"Technical Change, Inequality, and The Labor Market" (article) by Daron Acemoglu

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