Record number of bachelors in USA
In 2012, for the first time ever, one-third of the nation’s 25- to 29-year-olds have completed at least a bachelor’s degree. Researchers Richard Fry and Kim Parker (Pew Research Center) conclude this on the basis of a longitudinal study of monthly US census data among 75,000 households since 1971.
A high school education is becoming increasingly universal. In 2012, 88% of adults ages 25 and older had at least completed high school, matching the 2011 level and far surpassing the 57% of adults who had at least finished high school in 1971.
The ‘Great Recession’ of 2007-2009 accounts for part of the increase in educational attainment: with less jobs available the rate of college completion has gone up steadily since 2007.
The Pew researchers furthermore see changing public attitudes about the importance of going to college in order to succeed in an increasingly knowledge-based labor market. Similarly, when the Gallup Organization asked about the importance of college in 2010, 75% of Americans said a college education is “very important.” In 1978, only 36% said the same.
“The nation’s college-age population is becoming more racially and ethnically diverse – today some 44% of 18- to 25-year-olds are non-white, up from 17% in 1971”, the report states. “Historically, Hispanic and black youths have trailed white and Asian youths in educational attainment. That remains the case, but rates for all four groups are rising at a similar pace.”
Interestingly the Pew-study shows that recently – in contrast to the latter part of the 20th century – newly arrived immigrants to the United States have tended to be better educated than the native population. This reflects the growing importance of immigrants from Asia in the immigration flow. More than 40% of recently arrived immigrants to the U.S. ages 25 to 64 have completed at least a bachelor’s degree.