Educating Oligarchs

14 Nov 2011 /

Education not only increases the average income a person will earn, but it also changes the entire distribution of possible life outcomes. It does not guarantee that a person will end up in the top 1 percent, but it increases the likelihood. I have not seen any data on this, but I am willing to bet that the top 1 percent are more educated than the average American; while their education did not ensure their economic success, it played a role.

Let me give you a couple examples. I am comfortably in the top 1 percent. I believe that Paul [Krugman], with his Princeton professorship, regular Times column, speaking fees, and moderately successful textbook, is there as well. I suspect (although cannot prove) that if he and I had stopped our educations after finishing high school, we would not have been anywhere near where we are in the income distribution. If that is correct, might it be better to think of education as the key rather than focusing on the growing influence of oligarchs?

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