Old People More Likely to be College Graduates

For the First time in U.S. history, more than a quarter of Americans 60 and older have a bachelor’s degree. According to an Associated Press article in the Washington Post:

Currently, about 26 percent of Americans 60 and older have a bachelor’s degree, up from 13 percent in 1992 and now an all-time high. Educational gains among older Americans are being fueled by waves of aging college graduates who attended school in higher numbers in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s following government expansions of a military G.I. bill that helped pay tuition costs. Increased enrollment in adult continuing education programs also have bolstered the gains.

In the last five years, the number of college graduates between the ages of 60-69 climbed nearly 55 percent, more than double the rate of increase for younger age groups, including the 25-29 age group, whose number of college graduates rose 20 percent to 6.9 million. Roughly 78 million baby boomers, who were born between 1946 and 1964 and began turning 65 last year, are now aging into the senior ranks.

Historically the education rate and qualifications of Americans over 60 were largely irrelevant, at least as far as labor economists were concerned. Such people were so close to retirement that their work skills weren’t really so important.

But with health advances improving longevity, along with extensive cuts to Americans’ pension system, citizens are living and working longer. So the job qualifications of the elderly matter.

About half of all Americans 55 to 74 are employed.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer