Yes, I’m lying, but the New York Fed’s promised analysis of five-year and six-year college degrees calls the college premium into question, not that the authors understand why. They calculate that adding a fifth or even a sixth year of college costs workers ~$65,000 or ~$130,000 over their lifetimes, respectively. Thus, I wonder, “Why not graduate in just three years then to get on that wage-premium track earlier?” Maybe people could do it in two, or one, or just say they went to college even if they didn’t. It reminds me of the “seven-minute abs” scene from There’s Something About Mary, which for some reason YouTube doesn’t have a clean copy of. Feel free to explore on your own, but if you disagree with the zero-year bachelor’s degree, then you’re dreaming about Gorgonzola cheese when it’s clearly Bree time, baby.
The lesson is: Never reason from a college premium, which apparently even college graduates can’t figure out.
The more entertaining adventure is the New York Fed’s subsequent post in which it dares to question if a world outside the average college graduate exists. It’s titled, “College May Not Pay Off for Everyone.” Heretical, I know.
Here’s the authors’ chart, which unlike any research I’ve been able to do, goes back to the 1970s.
I’ve just received word that the authors’ security clearance has been revoked.
Don’t worry, though, they hedged themselves:
While we can’t be sure that the wages of this group wouldn’t have been lower if they had never gone to college, this pattern strongly suggests that the economic benefit of a college education is relatively small for at least a quarter of those graduating with a bachelor’s degree.
Yeah, in college-premium land it’s obvious that those grads are so stupid that if they hadn’t gone to college they would’ve been unemployed—and if they hadn’t finished high school, they would’ve sold themselves into slavery.
The obvious thing to ask is what kind of occupations these workers are in. If they aren’t in positions that require much college education, then that might imply that too many people go to college, that many college grads in highish-paying jobs benefit more from the signal their degree sends than the human capital developed through coursework, that the public is filled with endless garbage about the need for more college graduates (often at the behest of student lenders), and that a lot of these low-earners who have significant student loan debts will be unable to repay them, possibly culminating in a government write-down in the future.
Or they could just be really stupid and college qualifies them to be retail salespersons. And you shouldn’t worry, all those stories are just scaremongering and you should trust your east-coast media elite.