The Meritocracy Machine Hiccups
THE SOURCE: “Is a College Degree Still the Great Equalizer? Intergenerational Mobility Across Levels of Schooling in the United States” by Florencia Torche, in American Journal of Sociology, Nov. 2011.
By leveling the playing field, a college degree does something magical. A new study, however, concludes that the process runs in reverse once students reach graduate school.
In a study of several large databases, Florencia Torche, a sociologist at New York University, confirmed previous findings about the socioeconomic benefits of a college degree. Yes, children of the affluent have a better chance of getting into prestigious undergraduate institutions. But where your alma mater stands in the U.S. News & World Report rankings is not the only determinant of how you will fare in your professional life. The major you choose, what line of work you enter, and how well you are paid relative to others in your field also matter. In the end, Torche reports, things even out. Once people get college degrees, the power of their socioeconomic background to predict their future status and income is “virtually zero.”
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