HKS Affiliated Authors

Isabelle and Scott Black Professor of Political Economy, HKS; Professor of Education and Economics, HGSE

Additional Authors:

  • Joseph B. Fuller
  • Ali Epstein
  • Kerry Mckittrick


2023, Paper: "For decades, a college degree has been considered the key to unlock economic prosperity in the United States. College degree-holders have, on average, earned higher wages than those without degrees, which has contributed to large and persistent U.S. income inequality.1 The COVID-19 pandemic, associated economic disruption, and tight labor markets may be upsetting those trends. The college earnings premium appears to be declining for the first time in decades2 and, in 2021, 40 percent of recent college graduates were working in jobs that have not require a bachelor’s degree.3 Simultaneously, the value proposition of college is beginning to fade in the eyes of many in the American public.4 As higher education costs continue to skyrocket and student debt mounts, increasing shares of Americans are reconsidering whether college is truly worth the expense.5 Declining college enrollment numbers provide additional cause for caution."