The Park Place Economist


According to the College Board’s (2014) most recent report, the cost of investing in a four-year undergraduate degree in the United States has nearly tripled within the past twenty years. This trend in tuition prices and student debt has sparked the question as to whether it still pays to go to college. Specifically, several scholars believe that the increased costs of investing in higher education outweigh the economic benefits of higher wages and job security that are often provided to workers with a college degree. On the other hand, many continue to value a college education and believe that such an investment is important for acquiring the necessary skills that will help them become successful in the labor market. In order to determine whether the major economic benefits of a college degree continue to outweigh the gains of not pursuing higher education, a comparison of the wage and unemployment rate fluctuations of high school graduates and college graduates during the most recent economic downfall can be utilized to reveal which group is least susceptible to the adverse impacts of a recession. Due to the higher productivity levels often associated with a college degree that increase the likelihood of receiving specific on-the-job training, it can be hypothesized that workers with a bachelor’s degree will be less vulnerable to decreased earnings and unemployment during periods of economic decline.