Tuesday, September 30, 2014

"Want to Be Stinking Rich? Major in Economics."

If forced to decide, I prefer "filthy" over "stinking" as a deprecatory adjective.
From Salon:
Want to guarantee yourself a steady, well-paid career? Major in engineering. Want to take a shot at striking it rich? Then major in economics.
At least, that's how I'd sum up the findings of a new report and interactive tool from the Hamilton Project, which looks at how the value of a college degree changes depending on your major. This is already a pretty well-explored subject. But the Hamilton study is especially nifty, because instead of calculating what the "typical" college graduate can expect to make over the course of a career, like many researchers do, it shows a whole range of potential outcomes, from the fifth percentile of earners up to the 95th percentile. And of the best-paid graduates in all fields, economics majors rake in the most.
To start off, here's the sort of graph you're probably used to seeing. Using data from the Census Bureau, which began asking college graduates about their majors in 2009, it shows the annual income that the median college graduate in four common majors can expect to make in each year of her career. Of the group, English grads make the least, business majors do a bit better, while engineering and econ grads jockey for the top spot. (Quick note: These numbers cover only graduates without advanced degrees. We'll come back to the grad-schoolers in a bit.)
Now check out how the view changes when, instead of tracking median graduate, we look at all graduates. The graph below depicts the range of lifetime earnings that graduates in each major can expect to make. Up until about the 57th percentile, engineers make the most. But then the earnings curve for economics grads basically goes parabolic. At the 95th percentile, they can expect to earn more than $3 million more during their lifetime than an engineering grad.
Does the outcome change if you start factoring grad school into the equation? Nope. Brad Hershbein, one of the study's authors, confirmed for me that "at the 95th percentile and above, economics outearns every other major," whether or not graduates have gone on to earn advanced degrees....MORE