Would better education significantly reduce income inequality in America? No, says recent study from the Brookings Institution.
But that doesn't mean that better education wouldn't help the overall economic picture.
The study suggests that improving education does in fact help the economic situations of poorer Americans, even though it does little to whittle away at overall inequality in the country.
According to Melissa Kearney, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, “Increasing education isn't going to do anything to bring down the wages of the real top—or address rising inequality focused on the 1 percent—but it is what's needed to increase the position of those at the bottom. Those are two different problems.”
To illustrate this point, Kearney, along with Brad Hershbein and Lawrence Summers, took a look at what a boost in education would and would not do when it came to improving incomes and the widening income gap. The study simulated what would happen to earnings and inequality if 10 percent of non-college educated, working-age men ages 25 to 64 were to obtain a bachelor’s degree. They chose to focus on men because male workers with low-skill levels have suffered a more severe downturn in employment and earnings during recent decades, according to the report. They also obtain college degrees at a lower rate than their female counterparts.