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The Demographics of Wealth - How Age, Education and Race Separate Thrivers from Strugglers in Today's Economy. Essay No. 2: The Role of Education


  • Ray Boshara
  • William R. Emmons
  • Bryan J. Noeth


New research by the Center for Household Financial Stability shows that there's a strong correlation between education and money. More of the former often leads to more of the latter. However, correlation is not causation?there is no guarantee that more education will lead to more wealth. Many other factors might be in play, such as natural ability, family environment, inheritances and even health. It's entirely possible that what's learned in the classroom has much less influence on lifetime earnings and wealth accumulation than most people believe. In fact, your ability, family background, inheritances or health might be responsible for some?perhaps a large part?of your success even if you hadn't received the education that you did.

Suggested Citation

  • Ray Boshara & William R. Emmons & Bryan J. Noeth, 2015. "The Demographics of Wealth - How Age, Education and Race Separate Thrivers from Strugglers in Today's Economy. Essay No. 2: The Role of Education," Demographics of Wealth, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue 2, pages 1-28.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedldw:00002

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Joseph G. Altonji & Lisa B. Kahn & Jamin D. Speer, 2014. "Trends in Earnings Differentials across College Majors and the Changing Task Composition of Jobs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(5), pages 387-393, May.
    2. Russell Cooper & Guozhong Zhu, 2016. "Household Finance over the Life-Cycle: What does Education Contribute?," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 20, pages 63-89, April.
    3. Jeremy Greenwood & Nezih Guner & Georgi Kocharkov & Cezar Santos, 2014. "Marry Your Like: Assortative Mating and Income Inequality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(5), pages 348-353, May.
    4. Kerwin Kofi Charles & Erik Hurst, 2003. "The Correlation of Wealth across Generations," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 111(6), pages 1155-1182, December.
    5. O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), 1999. "Handbook of Labor Economics," Handbook of Labor Economics, Elsevier, edition 1, volume 3, number 3.
    6. Annamaria Lusardi & Pierre-Carl Michaud & Olivia S. Mitchell, 2017. "Optimal Financial Knowledge and Wealth Inequality," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 125(2), pages 431-477.
    7. William R. Emmons & Bryan J. Noeth, 2014. "Five Simple Questions That Reveal Your Financial Health and Wealth," In the Balance, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue 10, pages 1-3.
    8. William R. Emmons & Bryan J. Noeth, 2013. "Economic vulnerability and financial fragility," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Sep, pages 361-388.
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    Cited by:

    1. Luke Petach & Daniele Tavani, 2021. "Differential Rates of Return and Racial Wealth Inequality," Journal of Economics, Race, and Policy, Springer, vol. 4(3), pages 115-165, September.
    2. Maya Haran Rosen & Ofir Pinto & Olga Kondratjeva & Stephen Roll & Aytakin Huseynli & Michal Grinstein-Weiss, 2021. "Household Savings Decisions in Israel’s Child Savings Program: The Role of Demographic, Financial, and Intrinsic Factors," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 42(2), pages 368-386, June.
    3. Hazra, Devika, 2022. "Does monetary policy favor the skilled? − Distributional role of monetary policy," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 86(C), pages 65-86.
    4. Raja Bentaouet Kattan & Kevin Macdonald & Harry Anthony Patrinos, 2021. "The Role of Education in Mitigating Automation’s Effect on Wage Inequality," LABOUR, CEIS, vol. 35(1), pages 79-104, March.
    5. Kara, Alper & Zhou, Haoyong & Zhou, Yifan, 2021. "Achieving the United Nations' sustainable development goals through financial inclusion: A systematic literature review of access to finance across the globe," International Review of Financial Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 77(C).
    6. Robert B. Williams, 2017. "Wealth Privilege and the Racial Wealth Gap: A Case Study in Economic Stratification," The Review of Black Political Economy, Springer;National Economic Association, vol. 44(3), pages 303-325, December.
    7. António R. Antunes & Valerio Ercolani, 2020. "Intergenerational wealth inequality: the role of demographics," Working Papers w202009, Banco de Portugal, Economics and Research Department.
    8. Christina M. Gibson-Davis & Christine Percheski, 2018. "Children and the Elderly: Wealth Inequality Among America’s Dependents," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 55(3), pages 1009-1032, June.
    9. William A. Darity & Darrick Hamilton, 2017. "The Political Economy of Education, Financial Literacy, and the Racial Wealth Gap," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, vol. 99(1), pages 59-76.

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