May 26, 2016

Why Education Does Not Fix Poverty

Brookings and the American Enterprise Institute claim to have hatched a bipartisan consensus plan for reducing poverty. David Brooks will unveil the plan at an event on December 3rd.

The consensus poverty reduction plan will focus on three things:

  1. education
  2. marriage
  3. work.
The Education Poverty Argument

The higher the education, the lower the poverty rate.

Since 1991, the US population has done precisely what the education-focused poverty reduction people said to do. Between 1991 and 2014, we steadily reduced the share of adults in the "less than high school" and "high school" categories.

By 2014, the share of adults in the "less than high school" bin declined 9 points from 20.6% to 11.6%. The share of adults in the "high school" bin declined 6.5 points from 36% to 29.5%

Adults these days are as educated as they have ever been, but poverty is no lower than it was in 1991. This is not because the few lingering people with "less than high school" have soaked up all the poverty. Quite the contrary: poverty has simply moved up the educational scale. The poor in 2014 were the most educated poor in history.

- College education does (at least in part) is signal to employers that you have a certain level of relative "quality" over others in society. The degree was always a signal, not a productivity enhancer.

- When more credentials are chasing the same number of decent jobs, what you get is credential inflation: jobs that used to require a high school degree now require a college degree

- poverty is really about non-working people: children, elderly, disabled, students, carers, and the unemployed. The big things that cause poverty for adults over the age of 25 in a low-welfare capitalist society—old-age, disability, unemployment, having children—do not go away just because you have a better degree.

Nextbigfuture comment -
Education and productive skills can increase the productivity of society. Degree mills do not improve anything.
A culture that values education and work ethic can increase the wealth of a society.

SOURCE - Demos (public policy)

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