The Park Place Economist


Education is widely understood to impact earnings, but the dynamics of this relationship - specifically, the returns to education - are important to consider in depth. Through a synthesis of human capital theory and the Paradox of Progress, which relates income ine-quality to educational attainment, I explore how the returns to education have changed over time. I use 2002 and 2012 International Social Survey Programme (ISSP) income and education data to first determine the returns to education within the United States, Germany, Poland, Slovenia, and Sweden with OLS regressions and then to comparatively analyze how the measure changed from one year to the next in each country. I find that there is not a consistent pattern of change across the entire panel of countries, which suggests that the Paradox of Progress might not be universally pertinent.