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College degree does little to resolve income inequality, study says
A new study suggest more college degrees would benefit the poorest Americans, but would do little to change the circumstances of the middle class. - photo by Leslie Corbly
A recent study published by the Hamilton Project, an economic research project, found that while education can propel Americans from the lower class to the middle class, there is little evidence education reduces the gap between the middle class and the wealthiest citizens, reported Education News.

The report found education is beneficial for lower- and middle-class citizens by increasing salary and allowing for more financial security. However, an increase of those obtaining college degrees would do little to change the gap between the richest 1 percent of Americans and the rest of society, reported Education News.

The report, authored by former head of the National Economic Council, Lawrence Summers, and Melissa Kearney and Brad Hershbein, stated education, will not significantly change overall earnings inequality.

In the study, researchers simulated an environment where one in every 10 men who have not been to college were given a bachelors degree. The influx of college graduates in the labor market would cause overall pay to decline, but those who obtain the degrees would be far better off than before, reported Slate.

According to the simulation model, researchers predicted the gap between the wealthiest Americans and the middle class would remain virtually untouched. Using the Gini coefficient, a measure of income inequality, researchers predicted the gap would slip from 0.57 to 0.55, reported Slate

Although the income gap between the middle class and the richest Americans would see little change, Kearney stressed how education can still make a difference to lower income Americans: If we were to increase, (bachelor's degree) attainment by 10 percent, that would almost entirely wipe out the reduction in median wages that has been experienced from 1979 to 2013. Thats tremendous, reported The Atlantic.

Kearney said education does not necessarily mean only a college degree. Improved K-12 education would provide citizens with more valuable skills after high school graduation. Better access to job training programs would help low-income workers in climbing the economic ladder.
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