Skip to content

Parental Income vs College Enrollment vs College Prestige Level [Policy Tensor]

February 19, 2018

[Updated much, 20180219]

The 2 blog posts linked below examine statistics of the 1980-1982 birth years, looking at college attendance grouped by college prestige level, vs parental income and vs resulting kid income now.

Not surprisingly, the higher level the college, the more it tilts toward high income. The strength of that pattern is incredible.


Since I was specifically curious about the “getting-in” aspect of college attendance, I fished this out of the data. Mostly quite flat, actually, except for Tiers 1,2,4 (Ivy+, Elite, and Highly-Selective-Private). Attendance in those tiers definitely skews to kids from wealthier households.


Now the important part. What do you get for your money?

This graph is copied from the second Policy Tensor post linked above. It’s information-dense, but dramatic.


So for instance, the “Elite” line (red) puts you into roughly the 90th percentile, “Ivy+” (blue) puts you between 90% and 100%! Didn’t go to college at all (maroon color line)? Expect something like 10th %ile. It really is all about the education. (Thanks Mom and Dad!)

Next, I wanted to do a public-vs-private comparison. Here’s a graph that show the income data for Highly-Selective Public vs Private schools — note that in the above graph, the HS-private (tier 4) attendance has an income profile just like the elites, but the HS-public (tier 3) attendance has a more modest income profile (i.e., its center of mass in terms of parental income rank looks like a good 10 points lower). So that’s an interesting comparison – maybe with some implications? Here it is:

chart (1)

Those who attended the HS-private schools look like they’re getting an extra $10k a year, except when their parents were rich, in which case the HS-public ones actually did better. Food for thought.

For assessing possible relationship to intergenerational economic mobility, I’m curious how this data compares to that of other OECD countries.



From → Uncategorized

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: