Money Has Grown in Importance to US Freshmen Since the 60s

AUGUST 29, 2008

June 2008, JEL, p. 426, in review of Robert Frank’s Falling Behind: How Rising Inequality Harms the Middle Class by Frank Levy:

… By that time [mid 1980s] many of the trends noted by Frank were already underway. Since the late 1960s, the American Council of Education has been measuring the attitudes of college freshmen. Between 1968 and 1972, about 40 percent of freshman felt that “being very well off financially” was important or very important. In the fall of 1973, this proportion jumped to 62 percent and continued to rise steadily after that leveling off at 75 percent in the late 1980s (American Council of Education [The American Freshman report]). It was also in the early and mid-1970s that majoring in business administration took off while majoring in sociology shrank.

Of course one might wonder if the late 1960s were just an unrepresentative period in which the importance of money was less than it usually had been. In that case the later trend would be a simple reversion to the mean.