The whole point of paying thousands of dollars for a Louis Vuitton bag is that other people can't. If they could, the bags would instantly lose almost all value in the eyes of those who buy them. Hence, the more such things cost, the more desirable they become.
In economic terms, higher education is a positional good: It is valuable to have a college degree because other people don't have one. It is also to a significant extent a Veblen good: Sending one's children to college, and most especially a prestigious (meaning expensive) college, is a way of signaling social status via the conspicuous consumption of a luxury good.
All of this helps explain why college tuition has increased three times faster than the cost of living over the past three decades. University administrators have discovered that, to a remarkable degree, the more they charge for what they're offering, the more people will want to buy it.
Wednesday, March 5, 2014 Posted by Auntie Ann