Some of the papers are philosophical: Amartya Sen writes on "Merit and Justice" and John Roemer presents his own "equal opportunity algorithm". Glenn Loury does some economic modelling of anti-discrimination law enforcement, Lundberg and Startz model racial inequality and labor-market discrimination, and Roland Bénabou attempts to formalise concepts of meritocracy and show that redistributive policies can improve total output.
Two papers address bogus claims about intelligence. James Flynn looks at the implications of globally increasing IQ scores and argues against the inevitability of class-stratified meritocracy. Approaching from population genetics, Marcus Feldman et al. model gene-culture interactions and explain some of the misunderstandings about "heritability" and its applications to social policy.
The remaining five papers present econometric analyses of schooling and its connections with economic success and social background, using data from the United States. These involve teasing out causal relationships from complex data, asking questions such as "Does Schooling Raise Earnings by Making People Smarter?", reanalysing the Bell Curve data to find greater partial effects of family background and schooling in predicting social and economic success, and so forth.
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