March 9, 2014

Income Distribution by Education Level

You can often find median or average wages for the different education attainment  levels.   But I wondered how the distribution of wages looked for each.    I mean are they all pretty symmetrical distributions at each education level?   Or might it be flatter at the lower education level and wider distribution at the higher education levels?

I pulled income levels for education level off the BLS database for 
Table 5. Quartiles and selected deciles of usual weekly earnings of full-time wage and salary workers by selected characteristics, quarterly averages, not seasonally adjusted

Here's the income distribution based on education level :

10% 25% Median 75% 90%
Dropout $15,236 $18,616 $24,544 $33,020 $47,112
High school $18,772 $24,856 $33,852 $48,724 $68,744
Bachelors $27,508 $38,844 $57,616 $85,488 $120,952
Advanced $35,360 $49,244 $72,228 $104,572 $155,116

And then as % of median :

10% 25% Median 75% 90%
dropout 62% 76% 100% 135% 192%
High school 55% 73% 100% 144% 203%
Bachelors 48% 67% 100% 148% 210%
Advanced 49% 68% 100% 145% 215%

Overall I would say that the income distributions don't vary a whole lot based on education level.   The top 10% makes roughly double the median and the bottom makes 50-60% of the median.    The bottom 10% wage level is supported by the minimum wage so that may explain why its a little higher % of median than other education levels.


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