Cover: The overeducated American? a review article

The overeducated American? a review article

by James P. Smith, Finis Welch

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Abstract

A review of Richard Freeman, The Overeducated American. Freeman argues that income returns from college have declined so rapidly since 1970 that from both a private and social perspective additional investments in college training will be marginal at best and are likely to remain so for many years to come. On the basis of our reexamination of the wage and employment data since the 1970s, we will argue that at best Freeman exaggerates the case of an oversupply of college-educated manpower and that he may in fact be wrong. The data for the 1970s are clearly telling a fascinating story of adjustments to large entering cohorts. But to us it is a story of an overcrowded new entrant and not an overeducated American. The absence of any reduction in the relative wages of more experienced college workers during this decade represents a serious challenge to Freeman's hypothesis.

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