The Income-Level Value of Higher Education
There have been many attacks on higher education lately, some justified but some unjustified. Some are questioning whether higher education — both undergraduate and graduate education — is worth it. Much of these discussions speak about the value of education almost exclusively in terms of the money stream it will produce. Of course, there are many other values of education beyond this instrumentalist reason. Knowledge is a good in and of itself.
But if we measure education based on the income stream it will generate, the evidence is that it does correlate strongly with higher income. A recent Gallup poll reveals statistics about the strong correlation between higher education and income:
More generally, college education is strongly correlated with household income. Nine percent of Americans earning less than $20,000 per year are college graduates; this rises to majorities of adults in all income groups above $100,000. Similarly, few adults in low-income households have postgraduate education, and this rises only into the teens among middle-income adults. But it sharply increases among those earning $100,000 or more, peaking at 49% among those earning between $250,000 and $499,000, and those earning at least half a million.
The educational differences between the nation’s “1%” and “99%” exceed all other demographic as well as political differences seen between these groups in the Gallup data.
This chart summarizes some of the data in the poll: