W. Bentley MacLeod, Miguel Urquiola, 22 February 2021

In 1875, the US had none of the world’s leading research universities; today, it accounts for the majority of the top-ranked ones. Many observers cite events surrounding WWII as the source of this reversal, but US universities were well on their way to leadership before WWII. This column argues that an explanation of their dominance must therefore begin earlier, and highlights reforms that began after the Civil War and enhanced the incentives and resources the system directs at research.

Debopam Bhattacharya, 13 April 2013

Elite universities’ admission policies are perennially surrounded by controversy given the thorny efficiency and equity issues involved. This column discusses research into such policies focusing on the degree of meritocracy and non-academic bias. It suggests that men and private-school applicants have somewhat higher application success rates despite being held to higher academic admission standards.

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