This may seem to just be a problem for academics (especially academics with doctorates from low ranked institutions). But as Clauset, Arbesman and Larremore make clear, it has wider social implications. The ideas that academics come up with often have impact on the wider world, for better or worse, and the system that Clauset, Arbesman and Larremore depict is one in which some ideas are going to have a much better chance of spreading and having influence than others. In their words:
Together, these results are broadly consistent with an academic system organized in a classic core-periphery pattern, in which increased prestige correlates with occupying a more central, better connected, and more influential network position … strong core-periphery pattern has profound implications for the free exchange of ideas. Research interests, collaboration networks, and academic norms are often cemented during doctoral training. Thus, the centralized and highly connected positions of higher-prestige institutions enable substantial influence, via doctoral placement, over the research agendas, research communities, and departmental norms throughout a discipline. The close proximity of the core to the entire network implies that ideas originating in the high-prestige core, regardless of their merit, spread more easily throughout the discipline, whereas ideas originating from low-prestige institutions must filter through many more intermediaries.