Business

College & the source of inequality, as seen in one elegant chart

ted_20140725

Inequality is a serious issue, especially in the tech industry. New numbers from the U.S. Department of Labor elegantly confirm that the outsized benefits of college and high-skilled work are likely a culprit in growing wealth disparity.

The median weekly income for a college graduate is 64 percent higher than a high school graduate, and it’s 45 percent higher than a worker with some college ($1,098 vs. $757 vs. $666). The richest high school graduates barely make more than the median graduates with an advanced degree.

The rising benefits to college graduation could be because tech jobs are in super-high demand. the most recent job openings report from Georgetown University show that the hottest jobs are in software and information technology.

image-4

“Technological change is the most important driver of this explosion in inequality,” MIT economist Daron Acemoglu, wrote to VentureBeat via email. Technology increases productivity per worker, magnifying the worth of higher skilled employees. There are other important potential drivers of inequality, including globalization and the fall of labor unions, but technology is certainly a main factor.

What is not clear is whether sending everyone to college will create an equalizing effect on the economy. Nearly half of college students never graduate from college, and pushing more marginally qualified students into a university or community college may not solve the problem.

Some massively open online course (MOOC) providers, such as Udacity and Coursera, are attempting to create their own cheaper, vocationally oriented degrees. For a few hundred dollars and a couple of weeks of at-home training, many workers can get trained in the latest tech trends.

This holds promise for many students who could not attend a traditional college, but not all of them. We still don’t know whether rising inequality is inevitable.


We're studying conversion rate optimization. Take our quick survey and we'll share the results with you.