America Shows No Increase in College Graduation Rates over the last 30 Years
(via Paul Krugman
highlights an amazing breakdown in the prospects for reducing economic
inequality any time soon. Over the last 30 years, the U.S. has made no
progress whatsoever in increasing college graduation rates. To be
specific, 25-34 year olds in 2009 had a college degree rate of about
40%, almost exactly the same as for 55-64 year old baby boomers. In the
meantime, other industrialized countries were racking up substantial
gains, most spectacularly in the case of South Korea where a little over
10% of 55-64 year olds have college degrees, but more than 60% in the
25-34 age group do. If you want to understand how South Korea has gone
from a poor developing country to an industrial powerhouse within our
lifetimes, this is one big reason.
...the U.S. has fallen from a tie for second with Canada
among current OECD members (Russia is not a member) to 15th in the OECD.
The big question is why this is happening. One major reason is rising college costs
, which have far outstripped overall inflation.
...the rate of cost increase for public four-year
universities was the most rapid of all. One big reason for that, of
course, is reduced state support of higher education. Citing State
Higher Education Executive Officers, the National Conference of State Legislatures
reports that state appropriations per student, at $6928 in fiscal year
2009, was more than $1000 below its FY 2001 peak, and lower in real
terms "than in most years since FY 1980" (p. 1). As Bernstein argues,
Pell grants are one way to offset this problem, and he points out that
the Obama administration has strengthened the program. However, the Ryan
budget would slash Pell grants, among many other programs, in order to
fund a tax cut for millionaires of almost $400,000, per Bernstein.
As Alan Krueger
noted in January, there is a strong relationship between higher
inequality and lower social mobility. The OECD data show that the U.S.
is making no progress on one of the most important tools for social
mobility, college. If access to higher education in this country
actually declines, as it is threatening to do, our inequality problem
will become infinitely harder to solve.
Edited by SamoneLenior - Nov 30 2012 at 10:31am