Edition 124 - August 2011

The College Payoff: Education, Occupations, Lifetime Earnings

Carnevale, A. P., Rose, S. J. & Cheah B. The College Payoff: Education, Occupations, Lifetime Earnings. Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, Washington, DC, 2011. Pages: 36.

With overall education costs continuing to rise, the question of whether earning a college degree pays off in the course of a professional life is highly debated. The latest joint report from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce and Lumina Foundation outlines the correlation between a university degree and potential lifetime earnings. Based on the analysis of statistical data for all education levels by occupation, age, race/ethnicity and gender, the study explains how a college degree is key to economic opportunity, conferring substantially higher earnings on those with credentials than those without.  Potentially as important, however, is the finding that “In a surprising number of cases, people with less educational attainment earn more than those with more education“. According to Anthony P. Carnevale, the Center’s director and co-author of the report, “on average, people with more education and higher attainment make more than people with less education. But, major and occupation matter just as much as degree level. For example, 28 percent of people with an Associate’s degree make at least as much as the average Bachelor’s degree holder—mostly due to occupational choice.”

The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce

The College Payoff: Education, Occupations, Lifetime Earnings

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