Don’t Assume That College Will Pay Off


It used to be widely assumed that anyone who earned a college degree — any college degree — had made a good human-capital investment that would pay off handsomely. Even weak and disengaged high school students were encouraged to prepare for college, then go. The expense? Never mind — college grads got a huge earnings boost.

That was never true. Many of those students back in the ’80s and ’90s wound up being “underemployed,” which is to say working at jobs that were mainly done by people with high-school educations or less. But hardly any writers looked at them. Over the last ten years or so, things have changed and a lot of attention is now being focused on people who poured time and money into college, only to discover that their earnings prospects are bleak.

In today’s Martin Center article, I ask “Will Your College Degree be a Good Investment?”

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