The Matthew Effect: the rich get richer and the poor get poorer

August 24th, 2010

Discussed in Outliers, the Matthew Effect is where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

Or talking that to another analogy, those that learn to read faster, get more attention & reward, so get better. ย Those that can’t don’t get the same benefit.

Or those that are born earlier in the year and start school earlier, (generalising) are physically bigger than their classmates, so perform better at sports. ย As such they get more attention, more training etc.

Gladwell in short argues in Outliers, people that squeeze this effect and become those outliers (or run with the effect and get there faster).

I was reminded of this in a recent Radiolab podcast, whereby Gladwell was questioning the idea of a ‘child genius’ – what is the relevance of a 7 year old being able to read like a 9 year old, none really? Should we reward them as much?

Food for thought.

Inspired by Outliers, Radiolab and a recent study in NZ analysing the effect of the brain drain on high academic performers which suggested high academic results equated to real world success…which really is like the 7 year old reading like a 9 year old, your really marginally ahead of your peers – what real world significance does that have?

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