Monday, December 19, 2011

Being a College Graduate Is Still Relatively Elite

The good news is that completing your bachelor's degree still makea you a bit elite in America.  This U.S. Census Bureau report, at table 225 shows what percentage of Americans 25 and older have completed at least a bachelor's degree: 29.5% as on 2009.  As recently as 1980, it was only 16.2%.  

The breakdown by race is quite interesting:29.9% of whites 25 or older have a bachelor's degree; 19.9% of blacks; 52.3% of Asians.  Pretty obviously, the white supremacist model of racism and oppression is not terribly effective.


  1. A large part of the drive for degrees stems from the Labor Dept ruling that employers could not do intelligence testing of prospective employees, so they had to find a surrogate for intelligence testing. this has caused the number of jobs requiring a BS/BA degree to increase. this has in turn caused colleges to milk that increase for all it is worth.

  2. Which ruling is that? Griggs v. Duke Power Co. (1971) prohibited use of a high diploma or passage of an intelligence test as a requirement for employment. I do not see how this would make a college degree more acceptable.

  3. Hmmm, but note how ubiquitous the requirement for a college degree is in job postings. In practice they sure seem to be getting away with it.

    Perhaps I'm more aware of that since finances prevented me from getting mine and somewhat like Clayton I got diverted into a sordid life of programming (plus I spend a dozen years in the D.C. metro area which is credential obsessed). Not that the subject matter is bad (although I'd prefer doing science) or that I'm bad at it, it's just a very poorly managed field with nasty wage compression (see the H-1B posting) and horrific age discrimination (and no matter how well I can disguise my age prior to employment when I start it gets revealed to HR at least).

    Here's one way that gets around the intelligence test problem: for many many years a high school diploma has been worthless, in that it no longer signals that the holder can even read. So as a signal the college degree, especially with all those remedial classes teaching students stuff they would have learned in high school decades ago, has replaced the high school diploma. That still doesn't explain the lack of enforcement, then again the ones who are charged with enforcing this are themselves the beneficiaries of this move of the goal posts.

  4. Clayton .. IANAL but if I recall discussions of Griggs correctly the issue was that the requirement for a HS diploma or passing general intelligence test could not be specifically linked to the job functions being performed. In most cases employeers can make some sort of case that specific post secondary-school training is linked to job requirements so those pass the Griggs test even if the linkage is mostly for apperances