What Supply and Demand Does NOT Address

“Supply and demand” is a common response to many economic discussions. However, it is only PART of the discussion. There are MANY MANY MANY factors at play. NOT JUST supply and demand.

Last night I had a great (though short) discussion  with a peer about political candidates and the economy. One of the topics (BRIEFLY) discussed was the unemployment/underemployment of college graduates. His solution was to reduce the number of college graduates because … you guessed it … supply and demand.

He is right. If we reduced the number of college graduates available for businesses to hire, businesses will have to offer the graduates available more. Yet, something nags at me. Something is screaming at me that this is a bad idea. Part of my peer’s argument was that if we continue to increase the number of college graduates, they will continue to get less and less because the supply would be greater than the demand. Thus, we should NOT make college more affordable and accessible for the masses.

Yet, something nags at me. Something is screaming at me that this is a bad idea. That something is all other causes and effects. Yes, one of the effects of having a large college educated population is reduced “reward” for that education. Yet, there is more to it.

Do you know what else is a result of having a large educated (college or otherwise) population? All the benefits of education. You have people making a better contribution to society and making it a better place. You have people making gadgets and gizmos. You have people increase the efficiency of operations. You have people using personal, group, or public resources to improve the environment. You have a happier society.

Increasing the education of the population may reduce the individual rewards, but it also increases the societal rewards. I recall hearing a comparison of today’s economy with yesteryear’s. The comparison goes something like the rich of yesteryear would be the poor of today.

That comparison reminds me of this discussion. A college education may not grant the same social-economic advantage as it did in yesteryear, but today’s society-economy is more advanced than yesteryear. Thus, progress and stuff.

In conclusion, supply and demand is not the entire answer. It is only part of the answer. What are other parts can you think of?


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