Monday, June 27, 2011

Hard Evidence on Financial Value of College

Who knew? Dishwashers, childcare workers and hairdressers are among the group of workers who receive a significant salary increase just by going to college, up to an 83 percent increase for dishwashers who went to college vs. colleagues who did not. These findings are discussed here in an op-ed by David Leonhardt.

We're definitely at a point where all sorts of experts are wondering if college really pays off, particularly at a time of high unemployment and equally high debt loads for graduates. This year college loan debt is higher than credit cards, reaching a trillion dollars. A college grad with loans averages about $24,000.

I've argued that it is a major loss to the U.S. that we don't value and pay skilled technicians more, so that there can be actual, respected career paths for woodworkers and plumbers and electricians. But that is not the case, and we are left with this situation: "Sending more young Americans to college is not a panacea," says M.I.T. economist David Autor. "Not sending them to college would be a disaster."

Leonhardt's final assessment on whether college is necessary rings true. He describes those skeptical about the value of college as well meaning people, almost always with college degrees who are going to make certain their kids go to college.
"But in the end," he says, "their case against college is an elitist one -- for me and not for thee. And that's rarely good advice."

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