Education adds to life
earnings, census says

High school graduates earn $1.2
million on average over 40 years

By Pat Omandam

Someone could have won a million dollars -- or, if they have a high school diploma, at least earned that much during their adult working life, says the U.S. Census Bureau.

A study released last week by the bureau showed what many people already know and count on: The more you learn, the more you earn.

"At most ages, more education equates with higher earnings, and the payoff is most notable at the highest educational levels," said Jennifer Day, the branch chief of the bureau's education and social stratification branch. "People with doctoral degrees earn $3.4 million over the course of their professional lifetime, and those with professional degrees do even better, earning on average $4.4 million," she said.

The data group earnings by age, sex, work experience, ethnicity and educational attainment but not by state or county.

Day said the study, taken from census population surveys between 1998 and 2000, showed average annual earnings for adults between the ages of 25 and 64 were $25,000 for those with high school diplomas and $45,400 for college graduates.

Those with master's degrees earned $54,500 a year, while those with professional degrees, such as a medical or law school degree, earned an average of $99,300, she said.

The study showed that over a 40-year span, earnings for high school graduates was an average of $1.2 million. Those with bachelor's degrees earned an average of $2.1 million.

Day added that more American women than men have received bachelor's degrees every year since 1982.

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