1% majors

Interesting piece in Economix last week about what the top 1% of Americans majored in.   Here’s the top portion of the table:

I do wonder how many of those PS majors (not bad) are up there because they went on to pursue law degrees.  Of course, most lawyers are not 1%, but the best earning lawyers clearly are.   I had forgotten about this piece, but was reminded by a recent Adam Davidson column that laments marketability of certain college degrees:

Until now, a B.A. in any subject was a near-guarantee of at least middle-class wages. But today, a quarter of college graduates make less than the typical worker without a bachelor’s degree. [emphasis mine] David Autor, a prominent labor economist at M.I.T., recently told me that a college degree alone is no longer a guarantor of a good job. While graduates from top universities are still likely to get a good job no matter what their major is, he said, graduates from less-exalted schools are going to be judged on what they know. To compete for jobs on a national level, they should be armed with the skills that emerging industries need, whether technical (computer science) or not.

Those without such specialized skills — like poetry, or even history, majors — are already competing with their neighbors for the same sorts of mediocre, poorer-paying local jobs like low-level management or big-box retail sales. And with the low-skilled labor market atomized into thousands of microeconomies, immobile workers are less able to demand better wages or conditions or to acquire valuable skills.

Well, I’m glad he didn’t single out political science along with English and history.

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About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

One Response to 1% majors

  1. Mr Progress says:

    Liberal arts are always important, but we live in an era where international competition in math science amd tech is at its highest. if Americans want to compete on a global matket, a BA doesnt quite cut it anymore.

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