“Some say bypassing a higher education is smarter than paying for a degree”, a 2010 article published in The Washington Post discussed what many consider to be the decreasing value of a college education in relation to income. Richard Vedder, a Professor of Economics at Ohio State University, argues that for many an a college education is not worth the investment. Along with anecdotal evidence, Vedder makes use of Bureau of Labor Statistics to make his point. The statistics fail to show the full picture illuminated in “Is a College Degree Still the Great Equalizer?”, an academic article published Florencia Torche of New York University in the American Journal of Sociology. Torche’s work found that a bachelor’s degree is still a mechanism for intergenerational mobility in contemporary American society.
In class, we have examined the concept of intergenerational mobility examined in “Is a College Degree Still the Great Equalizer?” Intergenerational mobility is change in socioeconomic status from one generation to the next. The correlation between education and class is plainly enumerated in American Society: How It Really Works. According to the authors, education is a key individual attribute of class in contemporary American society (Wright and Rogers, 196).
As a result of economic inequality, the United States lags substantially behind Western European nation in social mobility (Professor Glanville, Lecture, November 13, 2013). The fulfillment of an education level above that of one’s parents is a way to move upward on the socioeconomic ladder.
Professor Torche concluded that “Based on these findings, a college degree appears to level the playing field of socioeconomic origin in the competition for socioeconomic status, at least when success is measured as class position,” and that “mobility among BA holders did not decrease as this level (the proportion of the population holding Bachelor’s degree) expanded over the last quarter century”
The Washington Post article is not wrong, it is incomplete. Professor Vedder argues that the value of a college education is decreasing, while this may be true Kaufman’s article fails to mention the nature of a bachelor’s degree as an important mechanism for intergenerational mobility in American society.
Professor Vedder points to the unemployment rate among those with bachelor’s degrees as the primary evidence for decreasing worth of said degree. Sarah Kaufman summarized this point, “In 1970, when the overall unemployment rate was 4.9 percent, unemployment among college graduates was negligible, at 1.2 percent” and in 2010, “with the national rate of unemployment at 9.6 percent, unemployment for college graduates has risen to 4.9 percent…”
These unemployment rates are accurate, but they do not tell the full story. Unemployment rates are not the optimal number for calculating the monetary value of a college education. A decrease in the importance of a college education does not amount to causation for this...