Today, 15 percent of US taxi drivers have a college degree, up from less than 1 percent in 1970.
The study arrives at a time when news articles asking, “Is college worth it?,” have become commonplace.
Although the new report suggests the answer often is “no,” this is a complicated issue, with other scholars defending the idea that expanding higher education will benefit individuals and the economy.
For instance, for people focused on their own financial well-being, it’s worth noting that a college degree tends to result in both higher pay and lower unemployment. The jobless rate is currently 3.9 percent for workers with a college degree or higher, versus 8 percent for high school grads and 11.7 percent for people without a high school diploma.
Plenty of economists defend the goal of bringing higher education to a larger share of the workforce, arguing that it’s the best way for the United States to maintain prosperity in an era of stronger global competition for good-paying jobs.
Both sides in this debate may be contributing important grains of truth.
Lots of people are overqualified for the jobs they hold, and this is a challenge that emerged before the deep recession in 2007-09, which created a particularly challenging job market for new college grads.
At the same time, the story of economic progress is one of continuous development of new tools and the skills to use them – and good jobs will flow to nations that can keep pushing further down this path. And millions of individuals have the means to educate themselves, and hope to be useful in jobs that match their talents and aspirations.
The Center for College Affordability and Productivity (CCAP), in its report, emphasizes the risks of pushing too much education on too many people, with too little thought about its usefulness.