College– not the great equalizer

So, this from Wonkblog is distressing.  Key chart:

Not only that, but the earnings gap between poor and rich college-educated kids is huge, and it grows over the course of a career. Right after college, poor kids earn about two-thirds as much as rich kids, on average. But by mid-career, the typical college grad from a rich family is earning close to $100,000, while the grad from a poor family is making around $50,000.

There are probably a lot of factors at play here. Hershbein and his colleagues are investigating everything “from family resources during childhood and theplace where one grew up, to the colleges that low-income students attend” in search of the driving factors.

In other words, a college education is not necessarily the great equalizer that many policymakers hope.

Obviously, it still pays for poor kids to go to college, but we really need to figure out why it pays off so much more for others.

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

2 Responses to College– not the great equalizer

  1. ohwilleke says:

    Also, it is worth recalling that poor kids with a given level of academic ability are much less likely to attend and much less likely to complete college than affluent kids of the same academic ability. A poor kid who completes college is, on average, more academically qualified than a comparable affluent kid who completes college.

  2. itchy says:

    Wow. This begs for further research.

    (As a BA with poor parents now in my late 40s, it looks like I’m on the slide back toward my rich friends with a HS diploma.)

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