Soical mobility not assured by college degree

A new study calls into question the assumption that possession of a college degree is the best way to end up with a better job than that of one’s parents (“Parents’ Jobs Increasingly Shape How Far Kids Get in Life,” The Wall Street Journal, Sep. 4).  At least that’s how I interpret the conclusion of the article in “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.”

It found that what parents do for a living is an even bigger factor than originally believed.  Just over half of Americans born in the 1980s have better jobs than their parents.  That compares with two-thirds of people born in the 1940s.  Yet during the period in question far more people have graduated from college.  If a college degree is all it’s cracked up to be, then what accounts for the disparity?

I’m not saying that circumstances at birth are not important.  Certainly they are.  But higher education is supposed to be the great equalizer.  Why hasn’t it closed the gap?  I realize that the 1940s were years still clouded by the Depression.  Therefore, those fortunate enough to have a job would likely earn more than their parents.  Still I question the monetary value of a college degree when student debt is factored in.

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