Education Pays 2016: The Benefits of Higher Education for Individuals and Society

by Jennifer Ma; Matea Pender; Meredith Welch

Dec 1, 2017

Similar to previous editions, Education Pays 2016: The Benefits of Higher Education for Individuals and Society documents differences in the earnings and employment patterns of U.S. adults with different levels of education. It also compares healthrelated behaviors, reliance on public assistance programs, civic participation, and indicators of the well-being of the next generation.

In addition to reporting median earnings by education level, this year's report also presents data on variation in earnings by different characteristics such as gender, race/ethnicity, occupation, college major, and sector. Education Pays 2016 also examines the persistent disparities across different socioeconomic groups in college participation and completion. The magnitude of the benefits of postsecondary education makes ensuring improved access for all who can benefit imperative.

Our focus is on outcomes that are correlated with levels of educational attainment, and it is important to be cautious about attributing all of the observed differences to causation. However, reliable statistical analyses support the significant role of postsecondary education in generating the benefits reported.

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