degree inflation

Fundamental changes in the structure of inequality, then, and in the quality of modern culture, imply the abolition of credentialing. A thoroughgoing program of this sort would eliminate approximately half of existing inequality. It would not directly touch the other source of inequality, the distribution of physical and financial capital. But socialist programs for overcoming this inequality attack only half the problem; Gini coefficients in socialist countries are approximately one-half of those in capitalist countries, averaging around .240 in the former and .440 in the latter (Stack, 1976). But even these lower Gini coefficients indicate a structure of occupational inequality than remains when capital is socialized. The socialist countries as well as the capitalist ones still need a second revolution.

I have argued that decredentialing of this order would have momentous, even revolutionary consequences. It could not be carried out without a thorough restructuring of organizational forms. This would be especially necessary because the currently existing credential system helps counteract the problem of excess capacity, and some other means of keeping up employment would have to be found. In the context of a thorough-going reform, such measures would not necessarily be difficult, by institutionalizing a shorter work week and/or by giving longer vacations. Under current conditions, of course, such measures are much more difficult to implement because of the income redistribution they imply; instead, spending on education has been a politically cheap way of practicing Keynesian economics in America.

—  Randall Collins, The Credential Society (1979)