In the anguished debate over the value of a college education vs. high costs and declining opportunities, a new Pew Research Center study weighs in resoundingly on the side of higher education.
“On virtually every measure of economic well-being and career attainment—from personal earnings to job satisfaction to the share employed full time—young college graduates are outperforming their peers with less education,” reports the 66-page Pew study, which was released earlier this week.
Indeed, the report, entitled The Rising Cost of Not Going to College, goes farther in stating that the disparity in economic outcomes between those with and without college educations “has never been greater in the modern era.”
The report, likely to provoke a heated response from college skeptics, demonstrates this conclusion by contrasting the economic performance of “millennial” generation full-time workers, ages 25 to 32.
In constant dollars, those with just high school diplomas make just $28,000 a year compared to their early boomer counterparts in 1979, who earned over $32,000 annually; the slope goes steadily downhill from there.
In contrast, an opposite upward slope marks the path of college graduates with bachelor’s or higher degrees from the silent generation, who in 1965 earned nearly $39,000 a year vs. their contemporary 20-something counterparts who earn $45,500, again, in constant dollars.
What’s more, far fewer college-educated millennials are unemployed (3.8%) compared to high school graduates (12.2%), living in poverty (5.8% vs. 21.8%) or living in their parents’ homes (12% vs. 18%); and a greater percentage are married (45% vs. 40%).
Those with two-year degrees fall consistently between those with college or high school degrees in all these categories.
College has conferred many other advantages on millennials, according to the Pew Study, including a career path rather than just a job (86% of college grads vs. 57% for those with high school degrees); the training needed to advance in their jobs (63% vs. 41%); job satisfaction (53% vs. 37%); and the feeling that their education prepared them for their professional lives (46% vs. 31%).