And you call that educated? The USA's overestimated education ROI

admin Wednesday May 11, 2022

I grew up strongly rooted in the economy. My father was a merchant, I worked in his store, and I knew his employees earned 6 CAD per hour. For me, this minimum wage was generous. A few years later, I got a first job. Thanks to some good fortune, I always found my wages generous, and even more when I started working in IT.

It turns out my story may not be the norm. A recent survey confirms an old phenomenon: highly distorted economical expectations by some of the people which we could think of as most educated, i.e. students of colleges in the USA. Even students in psychology − yes, psychology − overestimate their starting salary by more than 100%!

I find the amplitude of this distortion puzzling, and am curious about its causes. Is this a case of exceptionalism? Would students better estimate the starting salary of their peers? Is the USA's private education system to blame for this perception? Or are we encouraging education so much that we overvalue it? Hopefully, research on this can help mitigating student debt.

If you think you have answers, thanks for commenting.