economics Education

Selection Bias

This story says that people with college degrees whose parents also have a college degree make more money than those whose parents don’t have a college degree. It also found that for children without a college degree, it made no difference if their parents had a college degree or not.

Why? My opinion (you knew I would have one)

If a parent has a degree in a field that pays good money, say medicine, law, or STEM, also tends to have children who follow in their footsteps. Examples: I have a degree in the medical field. My son is a nurse practitioner. My uncle has a degree in computer engineering. My cousin got a degree in marine engineering and is on the design team for the Navy’s LCS.

What if a parent doesn’t have a degree? They assume that all college degrees have equal value. They convince the kids that they need to go to college and get a waste of a degree in Leisure studies, music, or Gender Studies. A degree is a degree, right? Example: My wife’s cousin has a degree in outdoor recreation. She is largely jobless and spends all of her time smoking weed and banging Colorado ski instructors. Or you can simply look at every Asian and Jewish family in America and observe that Asian and Jewish mothers consider an education to be a gift from God.

A parent who goes to college and gets a degree in Gender Studies or some other useless major winds up working at a McJob and decides that a degree is worthless. He tells the kid the same thing. Kid doesn’t go to college and winds up in the same company with the same McJob at the same pay as dad.

6 replies on “Selection Bias”

I am the first person in my family history to ever finish high school. My parents never made it to high school. I now have 2 Bachelor of Science degrees, and scads of credentials, got my first teaching certificate in 1985. I am a semi-retired RN, retired cop, and Monday I start teaching Certified Nursing Assistant classes for the local junior college. I still do prn work at the local hospice home. Not bad for an old country boy.
It turns out the local junior college has a special program for first generation college students. Tutoring, office supplies, a study area, academic counselors, etc. IHMO all of those can help a student from a non-college background achieve success.
On the other hand, my oldest brother is a retired master carpenter (high school dropout, no GED but 35 years in the union). His pension is quite a bit more than mine. There is a lot to be said for working in the trades. I first went to work in the factories at age 11. I am glad to have gotten the education that let me work where my body does not pay such a high price. I give credit for that to a good hillbilly mother who pushed education. One of her brothers became regional manager for Kroger back in the 60s. Another is affluently retired on the family farm in Tennessee after running his own welding company for decades. He specialized in repairing coal mine equipment too large to leave the mine.

All degrees are NOT equal… a surprisingly large number of people have trouble understanding this.
As you say, educated parents are more likely to help their kids get a useful education.
As JT brings up, it isn’t a matter of your official education that matters, but how you approach life and the decisions you make along the way. For example, I have met self made multi millionaires with a 7th grade education

Of course education is not merely found in a classroom, and in some cases the classroom education is busy teaching you things that just aren’t factual.

I believe this all started when companies began requiring a 4 year degree. The field of study did not matter. A family member, with 30 years experience in her field, numerous certification modules throughout, and becoming an instructor in her field, was denied any further advancement because she did not hold a 4 year degree.

Working in city government, she had been at her top pay scale for nigh on a decade. Meanwhile, new hires, with 4 year degree yet a fraction of experience, became her bosses.

In my field, aviation, many co-workers have checked the degree requirement but their degree leads only to a large decrease in pay if they should ever leave this industry. Their degrees are next to worthless. Many of them told me that they only pursued the degree because it is a condition of employment. Their heart wasn’t in studying for a meaningful degree. The truly wonderful part is they are saddled with student debt so vast it should be considered extortion.

Quite a number of companies began requiring the degree where a degree wouldn’t truly matter. Take government administration; there are so many certification courses offered by credentialed sources that they not only supplant a degree but surpass it. For the certification process is on-going whereas a degree program ends at graduation. Yet does admin hold the requirement for a degree.

Or, my industry; even a degree from Embry-Riddle is of limited value for most job openings are not going to be pathways towards, say flight testing. For that matter, the military makes a much better career choice. In fact, for those highly technical positions, .mil experience is required. Yet still do private companies hold the degree requirement. And since gov got into the student loan business, costs have only shot into the stratosphere. Fortunately, I came in before that nonsense came around.

Yep started those requirements in the 80’s about the time I came out of college. They are now realizing they are missing some good employees because they have to hire the gender studied degreed people over non degreed people. Karma, its a bitch most of the time.

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