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College Attainment, Income Inequality, and Economic Security: A Simulation Exercise

Author

Listed:
  • Brad Hershbein
  • Melissa Schettini Kearney
  • Luke W. Pardue

Abstract

We conduct an empirical simulation exercise that gauges the plausible impact of increased rates of college attainment on a variety of measures of income inequality and economic insecurity. Using two different methodological approaches—a distributional approach and a causal parameter approach—we find that increased rates of bachelor’s and associate degree attainment would meaningfully increase economic security for lower-income individuals, reduce poverty and near-poverty, and shrink gaps between the 90th and lower percentiles of the earnings distribution. However, increases in college attainment would not significantly reduce inequality at the very top of the distribution.

Suggested Citation

  • Brad Hershbein & Melissa Schettini Kearney & Luke W. Pardue, 2020. "College Attainment, Income Inequality, and Economic Security: A Simulation Exercise," NBER Working Papers 26747, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:26747
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality
    • I26 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Returns to Education
    • I30 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General
    • J21 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials

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