by Andrew Gillen and James Coleman
After reading Lane Kenworthy and The Education Optimists, we’ve got inequality on the brain, so we thought we’d share a couple of very informative charts we put together on the topic a while back for a project that’s on our backburner.
This first one shows the share of all income (red), and all college spending (blue) by percentile. For example, the bottom 80% of the population earns about 50% of all income. Similarly, 30% of FTE students attending schools with the lowest spending per student account for 10% of all school spending.
The most interesting thing is that in the bottom range (0-60%), college spending is more egalitarian than the income distribution. The bottom 20% accounts for 6% of all college spending, but only 3.5% of income. However, in the upper range (60-100%) the income distribution is more egalitarian than college spending. The 10% of students attending the highest spending schools account for 40% of all postsecondary spending compared to the richest 10% of Americans who bring in about 33% of all income. The country seems to have decided that our income distribution is too unequal – what does that imply about our higher education system, which is even more unequal?
For those of you interested in a little more detail, we’ve included the second chart showing the distribution of students by how much their school spends on each student.