While protesters complain about the top 1 percent, a harsher inequality — the gap between college graduates and non-graduates — is dividing the country, writes David Brooks in the New York Times.
Over the past several decades, the economic benefits of education have steadily risen. In 1979, the average college graduate made 38 percent more than the average high school graduate, according to the Fed chairman, Ben Bernanke. Now the average college graduate makes more than 75 percent more.
Moreover, college graduates have become good at passing down advantages to their children. If you are born with parents who are college graduates, your odds of getting through college are excellent. If you are born to high school grads, your odds are terrible.
It’s not just income, writes Brooks, cribbing from Can the Middle Class Be Saved? in The Atlantic. College graduates have a widening edge in family stability, health habits, maybe even friendship networks.
In the 1970s, high school and college grads had very similar family structures. Today, college grads are much more likely to get married, they are much less likely to get divorced and they are much, much less likely to have a child out of wedlock.
The “stagnant human capital” and “stagnant social mobility” of the bottom 50 percent is the real problem, Brooks argues.