Wealth Inequality Across Education and Class in 2019


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Piedmont Virginia Community College / Flickr

In the below graphs, I use the new Survey of Consumer Finances data to show how wealth is distributed between and within every educational group.

Higher Educated Families Have More Wealth Overall

The mean high school graduate has a net worth just over $300,000, while the mean college graduate has a net worth that is five times higher.

Wealth is Very Unevenly Distributed Within Each Educational Group

This overall picture obscures the substantial inequality that exists within each educational group. At every educational level, the top 20 percent owns a little over 80 percent of the group’s wealth while the bottom half of families owns less than 3 percent.

Educated Upper Class, Mixed Lower Class

When you put it all together, you wind up with an interesting educational composition of the wealth distribution. The top decile, which owns a little over three-fourths of all household wealth, is overwhelmingly college-educated. Those with a high school degree or less make up less than ten percent of this decile.

In the lower deciles, you see a pretty reliable pattern where the lower the decile is, the less educated it is. The exception is the poorest decile, which overwhelmingly consists of college graduates and individuals who had some college. Student debt no doubt explains the anomaly at the bottom.