Financial Benefits Of A College Degree Accumulate

It's been said that having more education usually leads to higher pay. A study suggests the advantage continues even into retirement years. That's in part because those with more education tend to stay in the work force longer.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

We've known for some time that having more education usually leads to higher pay. Well, now a study suggests that the advantage persists even into retirement years, in part because those with more education tend to stay in the workforce longer.

NPR's Ina Jaffe covers aging, and she has this story.

INA JAFFE, BYLINE: For people in their late 60s or 70s or beyond, college might seem like a long time ago. But the impact persists, says study co-author Heidi Hartmann.

HEIDI HARTMANN: It proves to be an excellent investment. That investment in higher education will last as long as you live.

JAFFE: The numbers are dramatic.

HARTMANN: If you have a postgraduate degree, you will make - just in your retirement years - three to five times what a worker with only a high school education or less will earn at age 65 going forward.

JAFFE: Another reason the incomes of people with college or post-graduate degrees remain higher after age 65 is that more of them are staying in the workforce, says Hartmann.

HARTMANN: We believe it's because the occupations are less physically demanding. They do remain intellectually demanding often, especially if you have a post- graduate degree. And people have the likelihood of working two, three, four times more at older ages if they have those degrees, than if they have only high school or less.

JAFFE: The report was published by the Institute for Women's Policy Studies. Hartmann is the president. She says at every level of education, men make more money than women. And the wage gap is greatest for those with the most education. That's because of the differences in occupations. Women, for example, are likely to be school teachers and nurses.

HARTMANN: Men are more likely to be magistrates, judges, lawyers, state legislators, CEOs, doctors, surgeons.

JAFFE: At least, that's the case for people over 65 now. But with the numbers of women in those professions increasing among younger workers, Hartmann says she expects this gender gap among older Americans to shrink over time.

Ina Jaffe, NPR News.

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