Thursday, November 24, 2011

Education:  The Wrong Inequality

in Scranton, Des Moines, Naperville, Macon, Fresno, and almost everywhere else. In these places, the crucial inequality is not between the top 1% and the bottom 99%. It's between those with a college degree and those without. Over the past several decades, the economic benefits of education have steadily risen. In 1979, the average college graduate made 38% more than the average high school graduate, according to the Fed chairman, Ben Bernanke. Now the average college graduate makes more than 75% more.

Moreover, college graduates have become good at passing down advantages to their children. If you are born with parents who are college graduates, your odds of getting through college are excellent. If you are born to high school grads, your odds are terrible.

In fact, the income differentials understate the chasm between college and high school grads. In the 1970s, high school and college grads had very similar family structures. Today, college grads are much more likely to get married, they are much less likely to get divorced and they are much, much less likely to have a child out of wedlock.

Today, college grads are much less likely to smoke than high school grads, they are less likely to be obese, they are more likely to be active in their communities, they have much more social trust, they speak many more words to their children at home.

Some research suggests that college grads have much bigger friendship networks than high school grads. The social divide is even starker than the income divide.

For more, see The Wrong Inequality by David Brooks, October 31, 2011 at NYTimes.com.

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