Trump was on to something: in western politics, there isn’t one elite, but two. There’s the liberal “cultural elite” that he despises, and his own big-boated, rightwing moneyed elite.
In a strangely overlooked recent paper, French economist Thomas Piketty — famous for his 2013 tome Capital in the Twenty-First Century — anatomises the rival elites in the US, UK and France. Piketty has merged post-electoral surveys from 1948 to 2017 with data on voters’ wealth, education, income and so on. The story for each country is similar. The cultural elite and the moneyed elite (“Brahmins” and “merchants”, as Piketty calls them) are both growing. Both have captured their chosen political parties. On left and right, politics is now an elite sport.
The big change since 1948 is the educated elite’s shift left. “The trend is virtually identical in the three countries,” notes Piketty. In the US, for instance, from the 1940s to the 1960s the more educated people were, the more they voted Republican. By 2016, the situation had reversed: 70 per cent of voters with masters degrees backed Hillary Clinton. British graduates moved left more slowly, but now mostly vote Labour.
From paywalled FT. Piketty paper is here.
“Polluted air can cause everyone to reduce their level of education by one year, which is huge,” said Xi Chen at Yale School of Public Health in the US, a member of the research team. “But we know the effect is worse for the elderly, especially those over 64, and for men, and for those with low education. If we calculate [the loss] for those, it may be a few years of education.” [...]
The damage in intelligence was worst for those over 64 years old, with serious consequences, said Chen: “We usually make the most critical financial decisions in old age.” Rebecca Daniels, from the UK public health charity Medact, said: “This report’s findings are extremely worrying.”