Thursday, September 26, 2013

Is a College Degree Worth it? The Wrong Debate Continues

-->
There are two dominant views concerning the value of a college degree currently circulating in American culture.  One view is that on average, people with college degrees make much more money over their lifetime than people without degrees.  The other view is that the over-production of college degrees has deflated their value, and we now have taxi drivers and baristas with PhDs.  I have often presented a third view, which is that a value of a college degree should not be equated with future earning power or job prospects, and instead of seeing higher education as a private good, we must see it as a public good.

The first problem with the idea that a college degree means higher earnings is that this correlation can have multiple causes.  We know that on average, students with wealthy parents and more social connections to high-paying jobs graduate from college at a higher rate.  Likewise, SAT scores are highly correlated with the wealth of the parents, and college rankings are highly correlated with SAT scores, and even financial aid is now often linked to SAT scores. The system as a whole thus reinforces class privilege, and so it may be that people who attain college degrees earn more because they start off with more and are given more opportunities and advantages as they move through the education and job systems. 

On the other side of the coin, the over-production of college degrees can be directly related to the under-supply of good jobs.  What we are seeing in many different job markets is that due to the lack of unionization, the increase in automation, and the globalization of labor and consumption, employers are able to depress wages and benefits.  One interesting test case for this theory is in higher education itself where we have witnessed a significant decrease in “good” jobs.  In just a few decades, we have moved from a system where the majority of the teachers had full-time, tenure-track positions to a situation where the majority of the faculty have part-time, non-tenure-track positions.  During this period, enrollments have increased, so we cannot say that there is a decrease in the demand for people with PhDs.  Instead, universities and colleges have decided to de-professionalize the professoriate.  As I have pointed out before, one cause for this problem is that the same institutions that produce the PhD degree do not require a PhD to teach undergraduate students. 

In other fields, this casualization of the labor force has been pushed by the use of technology to reduce compensation.  Due to the Web and the new media economy, professionals in journalism, entertainment, and other services have been replaced by citizens who are willing to work for little or nothing.  This reduction in earnings was once countered by the recognition that workers in a domestic economy must be paid enough to participate in the local consumer economy, but now in a globalized economy, there is always another person willing to consume our products.

What this analysis tells us is that we cannot expect higher education to fix our employment problems since so many of the labor issues are derived from the power of employers to reduce the compensation and benefits of their workers.  Just as the current funding model of higher education is rigged to reinforce class inequality, our failure to protect workers from destructive labor practices functions to enhance economic stratification.  When we throw high student debt into this mix, we see that our entire economic and social system is programmed against the future.    What we need is better labor laws and better employers.  Once all of the income gains stop going to the top 1%, we will see more good jobs, but education alone cannot fix this issue.

12 comments:

  1. If you combine it with a four year experience, totally worth it. I went to four year but took CC classes over the summer to fill in. Now this was back in the day so costs weren't like they were and I still wanted to go for four years but I graduated with a lot of extra classes in things that interested me. To see more info please visit essayswriters.org/college.

    ReplyDelete
  2. we need is better labor laws and better employers

    ReplyDelete
  3. With a college degree, you are able to choose from a wide variety of high paying jobs that will allow for a comfortable living.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Any educator can chance to find basic concepts of modern days culture, using cognition as well as imagination. But someone at any college expects to get immediate help with student papers for free from http://allfreepapers.blogspot.com as soon as possible he or she can use our custom writing service for students from any country they live in. As learning formations are getting more demanding every year, majority of them, including me, would like to get the order delivered on time.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Fine information, many thanks to the author. It is puzzling to me now, but in general, site
    the usefulness and importance is overwhelming. Very much thanks again and best of luck!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Decided to write to you my dear readers I did not like this book is full of metaphors and fiction.

    ReplyDelete
  7. University teaches us life which you will need in the future.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I totally agree that the argument should not be whether or not college "is worth it." The real emphasis should be how to 'De-commercialize' the process. The commodification of the educational process is really what the debate should surround.

    ReplyDelete
  9. September for the U.S. was the big day of mourning. People were just so stiff depression.

    ReplyDelete
  10. http://www.coachoutletstoreinc.com/ Coach Outlet Store Online
    http://www.michaelkorsoutletmkinc.com/ Michael Kors Outlet
    http://www.coachfactoryoutletwebsite.com/ Coach Factory Outlet
    http://www.tomsusashoes.com/ Toms Shoes
    http://www.cheapjerseysinc.com/ Cheap Jerseys
    http://www.michaelkors-bedford.com/ Michael Kors
    http://www.coachoutlet-sale.com/ Coach Outlet
    http://www.coachfactoryoutletorg.com/ Coach Factory Outlet
    http://www.coachoutlet-buy.com/ Coach Outlet
    http://www.coachhandbagsonlineoutlet.com/ Coach Handbags
    http://www.giuseppezanottionline.com/ Giuseppe Zanotti
    http://www.coachfactoryoutlet-handbags.com/
    http://www.coach-factory-outlet-online.com/ Coach Factory Outlet Online
    http://www.coachstoreonline.com/ Coach Outet Store Online
    http://www.coachfactoryoutlets2014.com/ Coach Factory Outlet
    http://www.michaelkorsoutletonlinemk.com/ Michael Kors Outlet Online
    http://www.celineoutlet-online.com/ Celine Outlet
    http://www.michaelkors.name/ Michael Kors
    http://www.michael-kors-outlet-store.com/ Michael Kors Store
    http://www.tomsshoescompany.com/ Tomss Hoes
    http://www.pradaoutlet-store.com/ Prada Outlet
    http://www.fitflopfootwear.com/ Fitflop Footwear
    http://www.celinebags-outlet.com/ Celine Bags
    http://www.fitflopsflipflops.com/ Fitflops Flipflops
    http://www.fitflopusaonline.com/ Fitflops
    http://www.giuseppezanottidesigner.com/ Giuseppe Zanotti Designer
    http://www.fitflopflip-flop.com/ Fitflops
    http://www.giuseppezanottisneakersmen.com/ Giuseppe Zanotti Sneakersmen
    http://www.fitflopsandalssale.com/ Fitflops

    ReplyDelete
  11. I sat down at the entrance, of the setting sun, bathed the orange garden, my body curled up, Ralph Lauren Shirts, like a plant strain autumn, Ralph Polo Outlet, shangpan vines, Ralph Outlet Online, attached to the fence, Ralph Lauren UK, my feet grew a lot of moss, Polo Outlet, it extends far away, Ralph Lauren Polo, deep in the vast, wilderness stretching, Ralph Lauren Sweaters, my eyes mist swept, http://www.polo-ralphlaurensoutlet.com/, every inch of land, Polo Outlet Online, and grassland, Ralph Lauren Polo Outlet, even gentle as promised, september's harvest, Ralph Outlet, has begun to mature, Cheap Ralph Lauren Sale, I heard the sound of, Ralph Lauren Outlet Online, cheering four weeks, Ralph Lauren Outlet, those voices full of surprises, and vicissitudes of life, roared Gucci Shoes Outlet swept across the garden.

    ReplyDelete
  12. This is a fantastic content, and I would like more details if you have any. I am interested with this subject and your publish has been one of the best I have read.daily mail switzerland best place to be born

    ReplyDelete