People with graduate and professional degrees are much richer than everyone else, according to a new study from researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. But they're not necessarily rich because of what they learned in business school, medical school, or law school.
"It's entirely possible that what's learned in the classroom has much less influence on lifetime earnings and wealth accumulation than most people believe," the researchers write in the study, the latest in a series from the bank's Center for Household Financial Stability that explores the relationship between age, race, education, and wealth.
The researchers looked at the Federal Reserve's Survey of Consumer Finances, which asks thousands of American households detailed questions about their assets and debts every three years. They focused on households headed by someone older than age 40, because most people that age have completed their formal education.
The study found that the more education a head of household has, the more money he or she tends to make. In 2013, advanced degree holders made over $116,000, on average, while high school dropouts earned about $22,000.
But wide as income disparities are, wealth disparities are even more stark. In 2013, households headed by someone with an advanced degree had an average net worth of over $689,000. In contrast, those headed by someone who hadn't finished high school had an average net worth of just $38,000.