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Contact: Robert Bernstein
Public Information Office
According to a new U.S. Census Bureau study, education levels had more effect on earnings over a 40-year span in the workforce than any other demographic factor, such as gender, race and Hispanic origin. For example, a worker with a professional degree is expected to make more than a worker with a eighth grade education or lower.
Some groups, such as non-Hispanic white males, Asian males and Asian females, benefit more from higher levels of education than other groups over a 40-year career for those with a professional degree. White males with a professional degree make more than double (about $2.4 million more) than that of Hispanic females with the same level of education.
(Note: Hispanics may be any race. All references in this news release to race groups such as black or white exclude Hispanic members of the race group in question; that is, all are “non-Hispanic.”)
Many factors, such as race and Hispanic origin, gender, citizenship, English-speaking ability and geographic location do influence work-life earnings but none had as much impact as education. The estimated impact on annual earnings between a professional degree and an eighth grade education was about $72,000 a year, roughly five times the impact of gender, which was $13,000.
These findings come from the report Education and Synthetic Work-Life Earnings, [PDF] which looks at the economic value of educational attainment by estimating the amount of money that people might earn over the course of a 40-year work-life given their level of education. The report also looks at the effect of other factors, such as race and gender groups and other characteristics with regard to this relationship.
“This analysis shows that there is a clear and well-defined relationship between education and earnings,” said Tiffany Julian, an analyst in the Census Bureau's Housing and Household Economic Statistics Division. “The overall economic value of educational attainment in this report supports the belief that higher levels of education are well-established paths to better jobs and higher earnings.”
Data for this research comes from the 2006-2008 3-year American Community Survey. All estimates are presented in 2008 dollars and represent the amount of estimated money that one can expect to earn from ages 25 to 64.
*As with all surveys, statistics from sample surveys are subject to sampling and nonsampling error. All comparisons made in the reports have been tested and found to be statistically significant at the 90 percent confidence level, unless otherwise noted. Please consult the data tables for specific margins of error.
The American Community Survey is an ongoing survey of approximately 3 million addresses every year and provides one of the most complete pictures of our population available. While the 2010 Census produced a count of the nation's population and basic demographics, the American Community Survey provides statistics on more than 40 topics, such as income, educational attainment, housing, family structure and more. All survey responses are strictly confidential and protected by law.