from an expert in the field:
dr. Stephen J. Rose is a labor economist who has been researching and writing about social class in America for the last 30 years.
he is the author of Social Stratification in the United States (New
press, sixth printing).
mARch debAte ReSULtS:
Is offshore drilling in the best
interest of the United states?
TeChnoLogy Is ChangIng the economic landscape in favor of more
skilled workers. greater skill requirements mean that more education is
often needed in established jobs. In the 1950s and ’60s, most insurance
agents did not have any college education. Today, 50 percent of insurance
agents have a bachelor’s degree (B.a.), while only 20 percent have not attended any college.
employers view those with a B.a. as the most capable of adapting to new economic realities
and are willing to pay for it: In 1980, workers with bachelor’s degrees earned 40 percent more
than workers with only high school diplomas; today that “premium” has risen to 74 percent.
For instance, according to some, insurance agents don’t need a B.a. and the agents with
degrees are not utilizing their college skills. The market tells a different story: agents with a B.a.
earn 50 percent more than agents with a high school diploma. employers pay more because
those with a B.a. are better at selling complex insurance policies to companies and individuals.
police officers have undergone a similar transformation. some believe that the 30 percent of
officers with a B.a. are overeducated. In fact, they bring education-enhanced skills to their jobs
and are more likely to be detectives and supervisors. Consequently, they earn on average 30 per-
cent more than police officers with a high school diploma and as much as high school graduates
who are managers and professionals.
additionally, those with college degrees are more likely to be in the labor force, less likely to be
unemployed and more likely to get a new job faster after being unemployed. outside the economics realm, people with college degrees are healthier, live longer and are more likely to be married.
In the 1960s, even though america had the most educated workforce in the world, the rate of
college-going among high school graduates doubled compared to the previous generation.
This investment paid off handsomely as the U.s. maintained the highest living standards in
the world and led the way in creating the major breakthroughs of the computer revolution.
president obama and others are calling for the expansion of college attendance and completion
as a way to ensure our leadership in the world economy in the future. If history is any guide, this
is the right choice for the country and for the individuals who attend college. C
Percentage reflects votes
febRUARy debAte ReSULtS:
received by March 16, 2011.
Does WikiLeaks serve
the public interest?
yeS: 45% no: 55%
from an expert in the field:
Percentage reflects votes received by
february 28, 2011. results may reflect
Debate being picked up by blogs.
Richard Vedder, a distinguished professor of Economics at ohio
University and director of the Center for College Affordability and
www.centerforcollegeaffordability.org), is the author
of Going Broke by Degree: Why College Costs Too Much (AEI press,
Too many persons go to college today, not too few. many would be
better off doing non-degree programs in career colleges or vocational
schools, learning to be truck drivers, electricians, beauticians or health-
care workers. It is true that college grads typically make far more than high school grads, but it
is also true that attending college involves a huge risk: nearly half of full-time students do not
graduate in six years, ending up with no diploma but sizable college debts.
Two important other factors are further reasons we have oversold four-year college
degrees. First, the cost of college is rising faster than people’s income. real (inflation-adjusted)
tuition costs have doubled in the last generation—far more than the increase in our ability to
pay them. Colleges are becoming bloated and highly inefficient, and increasingly students are
asked to shoulder costs previously absorbed by government subsidies.
second, the number of highly skilled, managerial, professional and technical jobs is grow-
ing far less rapidly than the number of new college graduates. We now have almost one-third
of a million waiters and waitresses with college degrees, and more than 15 percent of taxi driv-
ers likewise have a diploma. I have estimated that 60 percent of the increase in the proportion
of americans with college degrees since 1992 has ended up doing jobs that the Bureau of
Labor statistics says do not require a college diploma.
The bottom line: students with excellent high school grades and college-entry test scores
have a lower risk of failure and thus many should pursue a four-year degree. students with
poor high school grades and/or test scores have a higher probability of dropping out and/or
being unable to get a good job even if they are successful in graduating. Those students should
consider non-degree vocational programs or, perhaps, a community college. students in the
middle face the toughest decisions, although in many cases even they would benefit from trying the non-bachelor-degree options mentioned above, and then, if they are successful, perhaps transferring to a four-year degree program. C
opinions expressed are those of the
individuals or organizations represented and
are presented to foster discussion.
costco and The Costco Connection take no
position on any Debate topic.