EDUCATION AND IDEOLOGY
Matthew Yglesias makes an interesting observation about the attitudes of the young:
It seems to me that when people are discussing this issue they often forget that we young people have a different demographic profile from our elders in a couple of important ways. In particular, young people are better-eduated than are older people, a fact that’s often obscured by the fact that the people in question are young. Relatively few 18-29 year olds, in other words, have college degrees, because a whole lot of 18-29 year olds are still in college. If you look at 23-29, though, you’ll see more degrees than the public at large. Similarly, if you look at an even older slice of the young pie, you’ll see more professional degrees. Ideologically, education cuts both ways (or rather, going to college makes you more conservative, going to a graduate or a professional school turns you liberal again), so it’s hard to know how this plays out.
I haven’t read a lot of the literature on this, since I don’t study sociology, but my sense is that the correlations here are mainly explained by self-selection. That is, the type of people who go on to graduate training, especially in the social sciences, tend to be more liberal than their on-to-the-workforce cohort. I’m not sure that the trend holds for professional school, since lawyers tend somewhat more liberal and physicians somewhat more conservative than their peers.