More College Grads? Not Here.

February 6, 2013
Posted by Jay Livingston

You may have seen this chart already – Paul Krugman  and others have posted it – originally posted by Jared Bernstein nearly a year ago.  It’s from OECD data comparing college graduation rates across a generation.  The US has had zero increase.  The graduation rate for the 55-64 year old boomers was 40%.  The rate for the cohort thirty years younger (does anyone still call them Gen X?) was 40%. 

(Click on the chart for a larger view.)

South Korea meanwhile has gone for higher ed Gangnam style, and in the years between the two cohorts, their economy has boomed.  Other countries seem not to fit the education-vs.-stagnation story.  Germany,* like the US, has also seen no increase in college grads, and their economy has not done badly.  Brazil has been doing very well, despite a rate of college graduates that has remained unchanged and at a low level. 
* In Germany’s educational system, high-school graduates have choices other than college for education for new-economy work.

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