Cross posted at Sociological Images
In 1894, Anatole France said,
The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich and the poor alike to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.Back in June, Mitt Romney said
I want to make sure that we keep America a place of opportunity, where everyone . . . get[s] as much education as they can affordAfter all, Mitt got as much education as he (his parents, really) could afford, so he thought it best if everyone had that same majestic equality of opportunity.
Opportunity – how much is that in American money?
Yesterday, Planet Money posted this graph showing the costs and benefits of a college education in several countries.
The title of the post summarizes the interpretation of the college-educated folks at Planet Money.
College Costs More In America, But The Payoff Is BiggerBut what if you look at the data from the other side? Here’s the half-empty-glass title
College in the US Costs a Lot, and If You Can’t Afford It, You’re Really Screwedor words to that effect.
What the chart seems to show is inequality – specifically, the inequality between the college educated and everyone else. In advanced economies, like the those of the countries in the chart, education is important. But some of those countries, like the Scandinavian countries, have reduced the income sacrificed by non-college people relative to the college educated. Other countries favor a more unequal distribution of income.
I looked at the Gini coefficient for the ten countries in the Planet Money chart. The correlation between the Gini and the economic benefit of college for men was 0.83, which seemed a bit extreme. So I added another ten OECD countries.
The correlation is 0.44. The US is the clear outlier. In the land of opportunity, if you’re a male, either you pay the considerable price of going to college, or you pay the price for not going to college.
With this inequality come the kinds of social consequences that Charles Murray elaborates in his latest book about non-educated Whites – disability, divorce, demoralization, death.