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It Still Generally Pays to Go to College
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Over the last several decades, educational creep has predictably led to a decrease in the average intelligence of college graduates. Yet even after controlling for intelligence, higher educational attainment is associated with higher earnings. The following graph shows mean annual earnings by highest degree attained among five tiers of intelligence as measured by Wordsum. To avoid racial confounding only non-Hispanic whites are considered. For contemporary relevance all responses are from 2000 onward. To target those in their prime working years results are for those between the ages of 35 and 60. For Wordsum utility those born outside the US are excluded:

College completion signals more than intelligence. Most notably it also indicates some level of conscientiousness. And in the case of professional degrees, particularly those regulated by industry certification (law, medicine, accounting, etc), the financial benefits of a degree are obvious.

Even though higher education as it currently exists is disastrous for society as a whole, reforming it is difficult because those who have attended tend to do better than those who have not. This tends to be the case with all conventionally agreed upon public goods, regardless of whether or not those things can stand much rigorous scrutiny. While the current individual tax burden may be “too high”, those who file their taxes tend to be better off than those who do not so paradigmatic changes rarely happen.

When college becomes financially ruinous at the individual level, change will come. With the continually increasing outstanding student loan debt and the aforementioned educational creep, that must be inevitable. But we’re not there yet. Relative to a generation ago, in fact, the earnings gap by educational attainment among people of similar intelligence has widened rather than narrowed. The same parameters* but covering the years 1972-1989:

* The HISPANIC variable was introduced in 2000, so these earlier results are restricted to those who racially identified as “white” rather than “black” or “other”, while the 2000-2016 results are for those who racially identified as white and specifically also identified as non-Hispanic. Prior to the end of the eighties, though, the country’s Hispanic population was modest anyway.

GSS variables used: RACE(1), RACECEN1(1), HISPANIC(1), AGE(35-60), REALINC, WORDSUM(0-3)(4-5)(6)(7-8)(9-10), DEGREE, BORN(1)

• Category: Arts/Culture, Economics, Science • Tags: Economics, Education, GSS, Hbd, History, IQ 
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  1. I can only speak for myself. The entire experience has been ruinous in every way. Contrary in every way to the constant advertisements.

    Attaining a advanced degree completely reversed my professional attainment, finances and income.

    • Replies: @Kratoklastes
    , @L Woods
  2. Yet even after controlling for intelligence, higher educational attainment is associated with higher earnings.

    And higher indoctrination.

    • Replies: @Feryl
  3. Haha, I love the legend! Speaking of legends/colors again, A.E., why just not a spectrum of red – yellow – green with the “really dumb” to “really smart” set of curves? People do that a lot to indicate a varying range, and everyone knows red=bad and green=good.

    I give you great kudos for having the y-axis start at 0. I got into this with some iSteve commenters. Many people will generate line graphs with the y-axis starting at higher place to help prove their points, as then the ratio of numbers is obscured. Anyway, I hope you continue to make them this way.

  4. It’s interesting that the first graph shows the “pretty smart” eclipsing the “really smart” – is this a result of the really smart jumping ship?

    Also, the second graph shows huge ascension of the “pretty dumb” at the same time period the FedGov hired and mandated private sector hiring of negro women for affirmative action purposes.

    • Replies: @MikeatMikedotMike
  5. Now to the serious criticism of the interpretation (hey, you knew this was coming when you started a blog, right?): I just did a ctrl-f (or equivalent thereof) for “median” and “average”. I didn’t see whether these salary numbers are averages or medians, the latter being much better for this, IMO.

    What I’m getting at is, as you got into in the one sentence, the doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurial engineers and computer types, and graduates from BA schools who know the right people, may have quite a few million dollar annual earners who skew the data to mask the barista-based salaries of those Sociology, Art History, and Grievance Studies graduates. Median numbers would be best.

    When college becomes financially ruinous at the individual level, change will come.

    It depends on what you mean by “ruinous”. I think for those in the possibly-enlightening, but practically-useless fields, it is already not a good bargain (why I’d like to see it sorted out by majors). It may not be immediately financially ruinous, but just, as per E.C.-above’s case something to regret financially. However, the more parents THINK it’ll be ruinous, the closer we’ll be to a burst of the University bubble (scroll down), and the better off in the long run. That can be put off pretty long though, especially with the hopes of loan-forgiveness by the always generous American taxpayers.

  6. George says:

    This analysis looks at past performance to estimate future performance, which is fine as long as the reader understands this.

    Past income is not a proper measure. Future income minus costs of education is a start. If projected future income minus actual costs is a positive number then the question is if the result is worth the time invested. Future income can only be estimated or really guessed at.

    The future value of things like professional certifications might not be as valuable in the future, or might be more valuable.

    The risk of being wrong on the downside or the upside needs to be taken into account.

    For example the pharmacist designation. Will local pharmacists exist in the future? Amazon bought pillpack which potentially will put local pharmacists out of business. Do you need a pharmacist to answer your questions in person? My guess is an automated system can do that, and do it in your native language including animations and videos.

    Many of the certified professionals mentioned in the article have services that are mostly governmentally mandated. The pension crisis in the US is an example of how valueless professional designations are. Heaps of Lawyers, accountants, actuaries, ect ‘opined’ on the pension system and it still collapsed. Mostly those professions spend the last quarter century hiding the problems.

    • Agree: Audacious Epigone
    • Replies: @Achmed E. Newman
    , @Feryl
  7. @George

    Those are very good points, George. I do disagree on your last paragraph. As much as it’s not my job to defend the lawyers (especially!), etc., they have been working with what they’ve got. What they’ve got is a Federal Reserve Board that has kept interest rates to an unnatural extremely-low level for a whole decade. It doesn’t matter how “creative” these people are, the numbers won’t work to get the expected 7-8% returns on money that all those pension plans based their financial viability on.

    They could either go for the risky stuff, and go completely bust now and then, or get the 2% returns that make the plan “unsound”.

    It’s mostly the spokemen for these gov’t plans and the CFO’s of the big corporations (that haven’t already knocked the beneficiaries down to quarters on the dollar) that tell people it’s going to be ALRIGHT. No, it’s not going to be alright. I just wouldn’t blame the underlings.

  8. Aud, would you be willing to produce this same graph measuring non white Hispanics and blacks respectively (and east/west Asians, etc, if you feel like it!) for comparison?

    It’s interesting that dumb people with a BD make more money than average people with a BD.

    My only question about the results are how does tuition debt factor into post graduate earnings?

    • Replies: @Audacious Epigone
  9. Feryl says:

    Peter Turchin is doing the Lord’s work right now, in terms of identifying cycles of corruption. More and more people entering elite professions (be it accounting, or law, or whatever) is associated with declining measures of financial, social, and political soundness. Why? Because as more people grasp for higher status, status markers become more important than integrity and results that will pay off in the long run. For example, the 2016 GOP primary was a gigantic cluster fuck because so many (often useless) people wanted to be president. Back when we did a (relatively) good job of running our affairs in the 1950’s, not that many people wanted to be president. The 2020 Dem primary will also be a clusterfuck too, with lots of morons running to be elected, who will stoop to the most base pandering and divisive rhetoric to get elected BAMN.

    It’s become a trope that all politicians are lying and worthless, yet, back in the 50’s and 60’s, we weren’t told by political elites that it made financial and political sense to cut taxes on rich people, gut our industry and the labor unions therein, and attempt to occupy the entire world. Libertarian Barry Goldwater ran for president in the mid-60’s, at the behest of naive Sunbelt elites who hated the New Deal, and he was scorned as a lunatic, getting utterly routed by LBJ (Goldwater only won Arizona and 5 Deep South states).

    Turchin’s thesis is that periods of high corruption and dysfunction are marked by elites having destructive pissing contests with each other instead of getting down to the basic business of running a society with any semblance of stability and integrity. Since lower status is so looked down on in these eras, naturally “everyone” wants to escape prole status; after all, it’s not as if we can count on politicians and business leaders to help us out, so we might as well try to become a dominant elite ourselves. Turchin says that certain decades are formative, as they lead us out of a particular era and into another. So the social unrest and financial problems of the 1920’s and 30’s became the catalyst for discarding the social Darwinist mores of the late 19th and early 20th century so that we could embark on an era of active government intervention WRT business regulation and the welfare state, which began in earnest in the 1930’s and persisted well into the 1980’s in terms of actual government policy and leadership decisions. But the social unrest of the 60’s and the financial problems of the 1970’s became the catalyst for a growing movement to re-install social Darwinist policies. The current era of Social Darwinism really began in 1990-1994, w/ the 1990 immigration act, the 1993 approval of NAFTA, and the 1994 “Republican Revolution” led by Newt Gingrich, a loathsome misanthrope who once admitted that he was more interested in animals than people.

  10. @Stan d Mute

    “It’s interesting that the first graph shows the “pretty smart” eclipsing the “really smart” – is this a result of the really smart jumping ship?”

    I read something about this a long time ago, like pre internet long time ago. FWIR it stated that really smart people go into fields that do not pay as high, such as academics or research or whatever, and secondly really smart people tend to have less refined social skills, which inhibits their ability to market themselves in interviews, asking for raises, kissing ass, etc.

    Could be bullshit but it sounds plausible.

  11. Feryl says:

    But how much does a person need? When status was less important in the 1940’s-1980’s, a lot of “smart” people were comfortable living more modestly. E.G., they didn’t want or “need” as much money. Beyond a certain income level, you’re just working harder and piling up more assets in order to collect more status totems. Expensive real estate and cars being the obvious ones, but there’s also the not insubstantial matter of getting your kids into nice schools and helping them “network” there way into prestigious firms. The cost of going to college has gotten progressively more expensive since the 80’s, w/those born in the 1990’s being asked to stomach truly vertiginous high-ed costs. Elites in a corrupt era have no interest whatsoever in the concept of “fairness” or “equality”, as they dump more and more oil down the ladder of social and career advancement. See also the drastic reduction in entry level wages for many jobs since the 80’s, and the sickening greed of now elderly early baby Boomers who refuse to retire or accept a demotion, because withdrawal from the workforce would be a crushing blow to their sense of relevance and power. And status.

    The size of newly built houses got much bigger starting in the mid-80’s, reaching truly grotesque heights of misspent resources by the late 90’s era of the McMansion. Gee, lets show off by building bigger and bigger houses, even as family size was dwindling. This kind of skeezy showing off was almost non-existent in the 50’s and 60’s.

    • Agree: Audacious Epigone
  12. Economic decision theory requires a net present value calculation.

    • Agree: Audacious Epigone
    • Replies: @Audacious Epigone
  13. @Achmed E. Newman

    You should add in the men who major in theology, religious studies and related subjects. A few centuries back the church attracted capable men because they had few career opportunities, and for many of these men the vocation paid off in terms of higher status and a better standard of living compared to their parishioners. Their pronouncements about how to run things also carried weight with the secular authorities who wielded the sword to enforce religious doctrines regarding behavior.

    Now, thanks to market liberalism and the separation of church and state, the capable men have better things to with their lives, and that leaves the churches with having to draw talent from a pool of mediocre men; and we can see the results in how clergymen and theologians have declined in prestige in modernity. Their opinions about how to run our society now carry as much weight as, say, truck drivers’.

    • Replies: @Stan d Mute
  14. @Feryl

    Nice post. I agree Turchin is a hero – a mostly neglected social scientist who actually cares about the truth and isn’t an ideologue of whatever flavor. His own career actually negates his point about elites because with his technical skill set he could have become a professor of b/s regression analysis at Harvard, but he chose to pursue reality rather than status.

    He would add to your points that WW2 was a great leveler of rapacious elites, who were forced by war necessities to invest in the ‘real’ economy’ and in wages. It is the absence of mass mobilization ‘total’ war, rather than ideology per se, which allows elites to do what they always have in human history when given free reign – pursue pointless status battles that ruin society.

    (and as an addendum Mr Epigone is no enemy of these elites as proven by his silly aside that taxes are ‘too high’ ! Really? 15% of total income for most rich tax payers given the minimum public goods needed to oil the cogs of a vastly complex division of labor in this country?)

    • Replies: @Feryl
  15. When I went to college in the dark ages of the 1970’s it was unequivocally a good thing for your future career. Even if you majored in something useless like philosophy, companies would hire you over a non-graduate. Now it’s obscenely overpriced and being degraded in value by SJW morons (both in the faculty and the student body.)

    • Replies: @jbwilson24
  16. Feryl says:

    I would argue that it was the 1983-’84 economic boom that caused our elites to lose their minds, as they stopped questioning the idea of growth for growth’s sake, thereby blinding them to the destruction wrought by capitalism unleashed from labor unions, regulation, and loyalty toward a particular nation or ethnic group (“free market” Republicans only have patriotism in the sense that a country can and should get out of the way of free enterprise, in addition to the sentimental treacle about the “good guys” defeating the colonial British, the Nazis, and the Soviets).

    As you point out, since elites can turn on a dime and start selling out their countrymen in a heartbeat, it really is in our best interest to keep a tight leash on them. But in the aftermath of the mid 80’s economic boom, and especially in the aftermath of the Soviets dissolving, we were supposed to be grateful for our overlords and assume that neo-liberalism was an unstoppable freight train of an ideology for which no superior replacement would ever be found.

    As a matter of fact, free of any apparent ideological competitor, neo-liberal capitalism scarcely gave any thought to behaving in a sensible and pro-social way, as can be discerned by how many natives of the “free world” no longer feel as if the government and private industry has the best interests of the masses at heart. And since cultural conservatism gets in the way of profits, it comes as no surprise that the modern West is so decadent; when corporate profits became secondary, all over the world, beginning in the 1930’s, it became easier to shore up ethnic, family, and cultural stability (however, Silents and Boomers were chafing at the “emotional repression” created by Stalin, FDR, Mussolini, etc., and thus they created the “counter-culture” which elites absorbed into the mainstream in the 70’s (Roe V Wade, no-fault divorce, destigmatizing mental illness, and the like).

  17. @Feryl

    I had to attend a mandatory HR meeting at the company I work for the other day about the wonders of diversity, which illustrates how American corporations have become full supporters of the diversitarian ideology. In practice the implementation of this childish utopianism has the effect of making normal white people’s lives unnecessarily WORSE.

  18. Feryl says:

    The Republican paranoia about “the government” has basically been discredited at this point, because all institutions, be they public or private, are only as good as the people running them. Traditionally, Republicans whine that at least they get to choose which private companies to deal with, whereas when they give money to the government they fume about what it’s like to make a visit to the DMV. But at this stage of the game, many companies are run like shit too, and often lie to people and steal from them. Or outrageously exploit the vulnerable (the “health care” industry).

    But look at how Twitter et al are censoring users. That’s not the government’s fault. Republicans always say that private sector problems are the result of the government being a bully and an obstacle. Just get outta the damn way and let the private sector work it’s magic. Ummm……What if some these companies are run by…..Assholes. Similary, I always hear people say that it’s the government’s fault that companies hire dunderhead minorities. Ummmm…..What if the people who run these companies actually believe that employing “a diverse workforce” is a worthwhile ideological goal which ought to help with the never ending mission to drain every person of their sense of ethnic and national identity. Because, after all, being protective of ethnic and national identity gets in the way of profits.

    If corporate America could destroy labor unions, even in the face of most Democrats remaining pro-labor into the late 80’s, then they sure as hell could destroy affirmative action. But, you see, what drives corporate America is profits above all else. And pandering to diversity is seen as a way to make more money; pandering to, uh, labor unions, is a non-starter, and will only happen when great amounts of social and political pressure is applied. Look, we let the financial industry get away with robbing millions of people over the last 20 years; what does the government really care about doing racial head counts to insure conformity with AA?

    The fear of Silents and Boomers, that the worst evils are generally caused by an overgrown authoritarian goverment, isn’t entirely off-base, but yet that shouldn’t be an excuse to completely rid society of a government which can and does flex it’s muscle to protect it’s people from anarchy and abuse. I don’t remember who it was exactly, but this guy said that Western Boomers will probably never produce a dictator, because Boomers demanded and received chaos (de-regulation, open borders, little accountability applied to elite law breakers and norm violators) on their watch. And though some Boomers are hostile to private industry to a great extent, it’s very difficult for them to accept a full revival of New Dealism and cultural conservatism, because that would mean less “liberty” for each individual to do as he wishes.

  19. When I made the choice to obtain a masters it was sought after I had built a fairly solid reputation in my field. In many ways I sought after. In fact, at least one person severely criticized me for not taking advantage of opportunities, when it was clear that I was qualified.

    But pride invaded my thinking as it did concerning military service. I chose to be qualified on paper as well, so that no one could claim, I was given something. I was well o n my way to getting my education finances and other issues in line. And everything suggested that whatever value I had before the master’s would be manifold afterwards. Bad choice, the political climate was unhealthy for me. I was an experienced, knowledgeable talent submitting myself to people who could not and had not accomplished what I had. It was a disaster from beginning to end – a fish out of water would have fairs better. Having already gone through the humiliations of grad students via experience and earned the right to teach. I was unable to knuckle under the contrivances of earning my way all over again — they didn’t like me. And in very short order, I did not trust them. In the end I just did whatever, said whatever, and stayed the heck away from them as much as possible — utter disaster. When asked about my experience, the last question of my masters interview — I lied, I regret that – a weak choice on my part – even f politically obvious. There were so many violations of my person and my job — just nuts. However, that is what most grad students might experience — been there done that and moving on was my goal. I was to take on a post and was blind sided with a co-chair, which in and of itself was ok — but the manner in which it was done sent some very nasty messages.

    They could not or did not stop the Master’s. But I have no doubt they engaged in very nasty politics. Warnings I should have heeded by incidents that occurred right before I left. Hispanics white or black, asians and women in my field I learned are not to be trusted in any manner. They will glom onto a lie, even when they know it is a lie. The political climate had shifted even without my knowing. That despite having more than sound performance. my days were numbered. And no manner of being a conservative was going to topple their agenda. Coupled with the events of 9/11 and a response that I opposed. I was on my own. The margin of err, was substantially decreased and when they made their move, I was more irritated that I new they would do it than I was that it happened. And when it did whatever, notions I had of masters, experience, knowledge based valuation was in the toilet in less than an hour. Laugh. needless to say — deeply humiliating. Benefit, I came out more conservative, even if more bitter. I don’t like the bitterness or my tend to use colorful language — but the “assassination” made me more alive.

    So, the contention that education improves one income is my view correct. But in light of the polity and depending on what field, one’s support and grasp of the internal politics . . . that is far narrowerer than it used to be.

  20. dearieme says:

    “Libertarian Barry Goldwater ran for president in the mid-60’s, at the behest of naive Sunbelt elites who hated the New Deal, and he was scorned as a lunatic, getting utterly routed by LBJ (Goldwater only won Arizona and 5 Deep South states).”

    Yup, people voted for LBJ who claimed to be the peace candidate. That may have been the lyingest US election in the 20th century, which is saying something.

  21. this is only accurate for average people with no particular ability. not people of average intelligence, people of average ability. then their life fortunes are fairly dependent on their academic ability, and resulting degree credentialism in a white collar, office world. here, intelligence is what will matter the most for their life outcomes.

    aside from sales ability, which is rare, another path is there for men with above average mechanical ability, of the kind somewhat measured on the ASVAB, and certainly measured in the workshops, garages, oil rigs, and factories of the nation. these guys will out earn smarter men who don’t have that ability, and have to rely on slowly climbing some company ladder via cubicle office work, business deals, wearing suits, meetings and presentations, and so forth.

    this is what makes leftists very angry, and they hate seeing some guy with only a high school diploma, outearning them by a lot, by running their own body shop paint shop, or managing a natural gas fracturing site, or some other hands on work. that drives leftists crazy.

    of course a lot of blue collar work sucks, and you don’t want to do it, as a career. but the majority of those blue collar guys were average ability guys with average academic ability as well, so they just decided, college isn’t for me. the run of the mill mechanic or carpenter has a sucky life. but a good plumber or welder doesn’t need anything the left is selling and their job is less damaging to their body. typical construction workers have a body that is wrecked by 45, but the high mechanical ability guys aren’t building houses or pouring concrete or roofing for 25 years like those average blue collar guys.

    and that’s another thing that drives the left crazy. they pose as the arbiters of the gateway to life. come in, get our degrees according to our rules, and you’ll have a good life and earn a good living. then surprise surprise, how convenient, they’re the people selling what they’ve convinced you that you need buying. this is why i have become extremely negative on teachers. they’ve done a hell of a sales job, but the reality it, teachers suck now, and are a big part of the problem in modern america.

    of course i exempt careers that rely on extremely rare levels of ability or extreme luck, those are a rounding error in a data set, so there’s no point here talking about a life in the music industry or as a professional athlete, and so on. but the hands on guys, there’s millions of them, so that’s worth pointing out. think about how many of them now work for elon musk in his car and rocket operations.

    • Replies: @Audacious Epigone
  22. iffen says:

    With the continually increasing outstanding student loan debt

    When the AOCs are in power they will forgive student debt for everyone except WPPs.

  23. @advancedatheist

    Their opinions about how to run our society now carry as much weight as, say, truck drivers’.

    But the really fun part is that for a hundred million or so of our tribal brothers, these modern morons’ edicts continue to exert great influence. If everyone just noticed what corrupt hypocritical retards they listened to in rapt attention from the pews, they’d be forced to re-examine their underlying security blanket of faith in their JewGod.

  24. @Achmed E. Newman

    These are means rather than medians. Medians would be better though not significantly different, it would just widen the gap among the higher earners since the median premium over the mean gets progressively larger as incomes get higher since no one earns less than zero.

    The GSS calculates means. Medians have be done manually so I didn’t think to do it on the assumption that directionally it wouldn’t change anything.

  25. @MikeatMikedotMike

    The sample isn’t large enough for anything other than non-Hispanic whites, unfortunately.

  26. @prime noticer

    this is what makes leftists very angry, and they hate seeing some guy with only a high school diploma, outearning them by a lot, by running their own body shop paint shop, or managing a natural gas fracturing site, or some other hands on work. that drives leftists crazy.

    Indeed. That could be me, too, except I love when I hear stories about just such guys and very much appreciate the ‘magic’ they work when a light switch won’t turn on or the power steering goes out.

  27. Since so many corporate office jobs do not require a degree or even applicable licenses, to measure the private-sector value of one degree, I wish you would make a graph that filters out the degree holders with government jobs. Government jobs are the ones that often require a degree, and government jobs often include incremental, guaranteed, non-performance-based raises, whereas most corporate jobs guarantee zero raises and are often temp / part-time / churn gigs.

    Job longevity affects pay. In some sales-related office jobs, there is commission or bonuses for hitting sales numbers, but that only guarantees relative job longevity if you have the right manager. These are often churn & burn jobs, with managers benefiting from churning hard workers in fields where there is no shortage of churn-able workers.

    Since college-educated people often marry, doubling up on decent-paying jobs per household, I wonder if the economic effect of one college degree is based on total household income. Many college-educated men with a good-paying private-sector job are married to a teacher or a government office worker. Their combined income is relatively high and, in previous eras, would have been spread out to create more middle-class households.

    Some jobs requiring one degree, like the job of registered nurse, will always pay more due to the relative difficulty of the college classwork and the actual jobs duties, but tiny differences in pay in most white-collar private-sector office jobs are much more related to work environment, relative danger, the consolation of absenteeism privileges and the unearned income streams of the dominant workforce than to education level.

    Office-job managers even openly mention decor as a factor in being able to get takers when offering Wal*Mart entry-level cashier wages, along with the spiel about this or that employee having a husband who works at X corporation and the fact that she can leave early every day to pick up kids (in addition to many mornings and whole weeks of excused absenteeism). Some are cruder, just saying straight up: “The women we have workin’ here have somethin’ comin’ in”….from government.

    I have interviewed for jobs with big nationally known corporations, said to be “voted best for moms,” with interviewers asking me if the non-rent-covering payscale was alright with me, considering the free daycare. I have had so many of these experiences that, despite any BS that is uttered about the value of a BS, I know that it is not what counts in the private-sector office-job world. It is not a degree, licenses or even consistent quota meeting. It is the labor cost savings that matters, whereas a degree has value in obtaining, retaining and getting raises in government jobs.

    Most of the jobs subject to market forces operate on a how-little-will-moms-with-unearned-income streams accept. Many white-collar workplaces in the private sector are nearly 100% mom-dominated, but mostly not college-grad-dominated, whereas fields like teaching are also mom-dominated but do require a degree.

    They have no state-imposed constraint to hire college grads, but private-sector employers do enjoy the cost savings made possible by government, which guarantees a labor market full of single moms with government-subsidized rent, government-financed groceries and electricity, and with paychecks hiked up not by performance-based bonuses from the employer, but by the rigged progressive tax code, including refundable child tax credits up to $6,431 or non-refundable child tax credits. Or, a spouse can afford to work for less because the second income is a safe government job.

    Teachers in rural areas start out with salaries as low as colleged-educated corporate office workers, and school superintendents will tell you that teaching is a good second income for moms who can be at home with their kids in the summers. About ten years ago, rural teachers in my state had a lowly starting salary of $25k, paralleling the base pay of the higher paid layer of low-wage office workers, working in financial services.

    But most corporate offices are staffed mostly with non-college-educated moms, making even less than $12 per hour. They can afford to accept that pay due to unearned income from spouses, ex spouses or welfare and child tax credits. The labor cost savings is all that most private-sector employers care about for most non-management positions.

    And there are only a handful of management jobs, with people doing every cutthroat thing in the world to snag one since, with a management job on their resume, they can just go from one management job to another. I am not saying there aren’t a few exceptional pockets of excellence, but mostly, it is a complete zoo.

    • Agree: Stan d Mute
  28. @Fidelios Automata

    “Even if you majored in something useless like philosophy, companies would hire you over a non-graduate”

    Is philosophy useless? I could swear I saw a study a few months back showing that it was surprisingly average in terms of earning potential.

    All of my friends who took philosophy degrees are wealthier than I am, by the way. They went into law at the right time and made partner. I don’t know a single PhD bearing STEM person working a regular job for salary (as opposed to one running a company or receiving patent royalties) who can compete with them.

  29. anarchyst says:

    Opening one’s mind does not require a college degree. In fact, there are those who made great strides in technology despite not having a college degree.
    One prime example of this is the story of Stanford Ovshinsky. A machinist by trade, he came up with the idea of amorphous semiconductors. Traditional semiconductors are fabricated from crystalline structures, by complicated processes, which are then doped with various impurities to gives them unique electrical characteristics. Ovshinsky’s method utilized non-crystalline methods which could be simply sprayed on a surface, while possessing these unique electrical characteristics,much less expensive to produce. He took his ideas to local universities, whose professors all told him that his ideas would not work. He still pursued his line of thinking outside the box and was extremely successful. Multinational corporations such as Sony and Sharp have licensed his patented technology. These same universities, who initially rejected him, in later years, have invited him as a peer and have finally embraced his unconventional methods who they initially said wouldn’t work. Thinking outside the box can be a lonely pursuit, but is quite often necessary to advance the technology.Mr. Ovshinsky himself, admitted that if he had received a traditional college education, he would not have come up with his successful ideas.

  30. anarchyst says:

    I am a non-degreed engineer that has a successful career, every subsequent job being better than the previous. My lack of a degree did hold me back, despite having the ability to perform engineering and design, however, I did not let that limit me.
    I started out in the trades after a stint at a non-degree granting institution that was able to turn out competent electrical engineers in two years, not the four years that degree-granting institutions required. This Detroit area proprietary school was so well regarded by local industry that local newspaper ads by employers of the day listed college degree or RETS as a requirement for employment.
    I urge young people to seek out apprenticeships in the trades, as open slots are going begging due to retirements by us old-timers. Working with one’s hands as well as one’s mind produces a far superior individual than that of most college graduates. Hell, I know many college-educated electrical engineers who cannot wire a simple light switch or perform basic mechanical repairs, unlike us old-timers. There is absolutely no shame in working in the trades-something that many college types look down upon.
    If I had my way, every STEM graduate would have to perform a job in the trades for two years in order to receive degree status.

  31. anarchyst says:
    @Endgame Napoleon

    The federal government requires a degree in ANY discipline, even if it is unrelated to the position one is applying for.
    I suspect that the quality of today’s college graduates is the driving force behind the requirement for a college “degree”.
    Those of us who attended high school in the 1960s received an education that is equal to that of today’s college graduates.

  32. @Feryl

    I would argue that it was the 1983-’84 economic boom that caused our elites to lose their minds

    But not for the first nor even the last time. A decade earlier the Affirmative Action insanity was begun and throughout the 1960’s was a series of retarded ideas/actions. A decade and a half before that, America was the sole nuclear power on the planet and rather than ensure it remained in that unique role, it allowed our enemies to develop (or steal from us) the tech and to develop their own nukes threatening our extinction.

    Your ‘83-‘84 inflection point was also roughly when my generation (X) went full retard on victim culture. Right in concept, we were victims then and now of dysgenic dysfunctional dumbass Silents and ultra-narcissistic Boomers, wrong in execution we allowed every freak outlier failure group to pick our pockets for their gibs. Victims since birth of lawful racial discrimination via AA, we spread the other cheek for faggots, trannies, and every other manner of genetic fail. We even pretended that the most privileged group in history, our mollycoddled women, were instead somehow victims by being allowed to avoid our shit workplaces and stay home in comfort and safety.

    A decade after your inflection point was the major jumping off point of exporting our means of production (machine tools, production lines, entire factories and supply chains) concomitant with importation of third worlders by the tens of millions.

    It wasn’t just “Growth!” It was “there’s only one form of Growth!” Just add low wage low IQ population and everything will be just fine. After all, look what a great example of success the negro proved to be.

    The only way to win this idiot game is to stop playing it.

    • Replies: @Feryl
    , @Feryl
  33. Feryl says:
    @Stan d Mute

    According to Strauss and Howe, they consider 1983 to be the last year in which idealism and earnestness took priority over greed and cynicism. That’s also about the last year in which parents could get away with indifferent parenting. I’ve also heard anecdotally that middle class people started to grasp for higher status shamelessly around 1984.

    The divide over when “the culture” took a turn for the worse typically falls along partisan lines, with conservatives blaming the 60’s, and liberals blaming the 80’s. But on objective measures of corruption and greed, the 60’s do well, the 70’s and early 80’s do ok, and the late 80’s and 90’s are terrible (for one thing, the adoption of state lotteries really began in the late 80’s). One could quibble with the government and idealist over-reach of the 60’s and 70’s, but then, people lived in smaller houses and rich people were still taxed quite highly, with little popular support for removing restraints on greed and accumulation. Apropos of sportsball, the 1983 and esp. 1984 NFL draft saw a marked decreased in white players being drafted high, suggesting that this was around the time that “professionals” began downplaying the importance of character (hell, I saw a note from the Packers GM to a late 70’s draftee which instructed the player to dress well at all times in order to help the team’s PR). Strauss and Howe say that “unraveling” periods are notable for professionalism and integrity collapsing, but on the plus side, people remember that they should start protecting their kids again.

    WRT Silents, I would say their greatest failure is that they never had the courage or boldness to confront any major problem head on, preferring instead to either quietly stew in frustration or make fruitless attempts at building consensus to please everyone, when that approach is utterly worthless when done with Boomers, who don’t think it’s necessary to listen to or please everyone before they make a decision or judgement. Oh, and later GIs and Silents made a massive error in the 70’s when they gave legal and professional imprimatur to headstrong young Boomers who insisted that everything about society be re-made in their image. Boomers were the among the quickest generations to rise to political and professional power in US history; X-ers have been the slowest (with the newest Superbowl, featuring a match up of elderly Boomer Belechik against Millennial McVay, being pretty fitting to these trends).

  34. Feryl says:
    @Stan d Mute

    Adopting gays as a victim “mascot” was kind of inevitable for Gen X-ers, because blacks were already taken by Silents and Boomers. Similarly, crying about the equatorial rain forest was inevitable, because Silents and Boomers already had made a stink about pollution in their global North backyards, literally so in some cases. Most Boomers never really cared that much about gays (gay issues had minimal visibility in the late 60’s and early 70’s), and why would they when they’re not more than like 6% of the population. As we see the cultural collapse deepen, each generation has to find a yet more niche victim class, with Millennials and Gen Z sponsoring freakazoid trannies.

    1960’s and 70’s: blacks (11-13% of the population)

    1980’s and 90’s: gays (5-7% of the population consistently homosexual)

    2000’s and 10’s: trannies (what, like 1% of the population?)

  35. Feryl says:

    Unless we do an about-face soon, I predict that the next frontier for victimhood will be “trans-humans” (cyborgs), who want electronic implants to improve athleticism and mental agility

  36. @Endgame Napoleon

    ….what kinds of “corporations” are you talking about exactly? certainly not Tech or Finance–the idea of a tech company (whether more ‘start-uppy’ or extremely established) hiring primarily non-degree holding moms is laughable.

  37. Interesting. In the more recent data smart people (regardless of education levels) make more money than dumb people. In the data from 1972-1989, this effect was much smaller. This is consistent with the idea that in the old days education was the main factor which mediated the correlation between IQ and income, but today it isn’t. Today job seekers must have some alternative way of signalling intelligence besides education. What is this alternative signalling mechanism? Conversely, how do employers separate the intelligent from the dumb? This could be lucrative.

  38. says:
    @Achmed E. Newman

    > I think for those in the possibly-enlightening, but practically-useless fields, it is already not a good bargain (why I’d like to see it sorted out by majors).

    The Federal Reserve Bank (the people that print money) has detailed data on that, the percentage of graduates in those majors who are working in jobs that do not require ANY university degrees (Under Employment).
    “Labor Market Outcomes of College Graduates by Major, Last Updated: February 6, 2019”

  39. @EliteCommInc.

    As late as the 1990s that was always a pretty well-understood side-effect of ‘advanced’ study: completing a PhD in most disciplines was taken as a signal to the world that you wanted to be an academic[1].

    That was particularly true of Accounting, Engineering, Finance, Economics, Econometrics, Law, Computer Science, and Architecture.

    It was always true in ‘pure’ Sciences (Maths, Physics, Chemistry etc).

    • Replies: @L Woods
  40. L Woods says:

    I’d be curious to know what field you’re in to have experienced something so dramatically negative.

  41. L Woods says:

    My understanding (pertaining to the present day) is that econ PhDs do quite well in industry and government.

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