College still pays

The U.S. doesn’t need more college graduates, writes New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, who sees high-wage jobs vanishing or going overseas in a “hollowed out” economy.

Not so, counters economist Gary Becker on the Becker-Posner Blog. The high-tech economy favors the educated, which is why people around the world are seeking higher education. College still pays.

While there are more college graduates, the degree premium has continued to rise.

In the United States, for example, the average earning of persons with four year of college increased from about 35% above the average earnings of high school graduates in 1980 to about 55% higher in 2009, despite a growth during this period in the fraction of the American labor force with a college education. The earnings premiums for persons with a post-graduate education have increased even faster over this 30 year-period. Moreover, the unemployment rates of lower educated persons have remained much higher than the unemployment rates of persons with higher education.

President Obama is right to push for more college graduates, Becker writes.  Achieving a highly educated workforce will require a focus on males, who’ve fallen behind women, in higher education. It also will require strengthening  preschool and K-12 education to stem the very high high school dropout rate, especially for African-Americans and other minorities.

A college education does more than impart knowledge needed for a job, adds Richard Posner.

But student loans aren’t always a good idea, warns the Washington Post, citing an Institute for Higher Education Policy report on high delinquency rates for borrowers.

New college graduates are having a hard time getting that first career job — and they may never catch up.


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Does college pay? — Joanne Jacobs

[…] Community College Spotlight:  College still pays for students and for the […]

Charles R. Williams

On average a college degree pays off. But what about on the margin. And what about this degree vs. that degree. And what about the peculiar preference of employers for college degrees to hire for a position that doesn’t require degree-level skills. And what about the value of the skills that are required to get a degree vs. the skills that are acquired in the process of getting a degree. What is a BA anyway- no one has ever defined it.

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