More college graduates will not cure America‚Äôs globalization ills.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008 at 11:52AM
Skeptic in Education, Free trade, Globalization

China now "churns out more than 4 million university graduates yearly, but only 1.6 million new college level jobs," according to this article in Psychology Today. These statistics have at least two grim implications for the nostrum that Americans will prosper despite globalization because we have the best colleges and universities.

One, putting a higher proportion of American students through college won't mean there will be appropriate jobs for them when they graduate. It is reported here that we already have a shockingly large number of B.A. holders working in jobs for which no college is required, including one-quarter of travel agents and retail sales supervisors, one-third of flight attendants, and one-half of aerobics instructors.

Two, there are lots of Chinese college graduates competing with Americans. Perhaps that is why real wages for American college graduates are declining along with the real wages of all groups with less education. And now even MBA jobs are being outsourced to India; think that won't impact the wage levels for these entry-level elites?

Update on Tuesday, November 3, 2009 at 11:51AM by Registered CommenterSkeptic

NYT has this update on China's 21st Century commitment to higher education:

China has poured billions of dollars into education in the last decade. The results are remarkable: Higher-education enrollment has more than tripled since 2000, and China today awards more college degrees than the United States and India combined. Annual awards of doctoral degrees rose sevenfold between 1996 and 2006.


Update on Monday, November 1, 2010 at 01:24PM by Registered CommenterSkeptic

America and China are not the only places unable to employ all their college graduates. Commenter cm on this Mark Thoma post describes his observations about Germany: 

More clarification on the German experience. For "professional" careers the time line is about like this - K-12 until age 18, military draft or civilian service (only for men) if before college 2 years including slack (until age 20), college/uni regular time 4-5 years (24/25), but many have/opt to work part time on the side to support lifestyle beyond the bare bones student loans, which can drag things out a bit - let's say 1-2 years is not too much out of line. So you are looking at graduation between 24-27 years of age. Then maybe a year of foreign exchange and/or unpaid or token pay internship is considered the norm to demonstrate you are serious and sufficiently committed, given the competitive environment of too many graduates. In fact the latter has become so pervasive over the past decade that there is now a well established (folk sociological) concept of "generation internship" as enough young graduates go from one internship to the next in the hope of landing a "real" job. Too many people, too few real jobs, and everybody has to listen to "worker shortage".

Update on Sunday, December 12, 2010 at 02:51PM by Registered CommenterSkeptic

As of May 2010, China is turning out 6 million new college graduates per year. There is a vast shortage of jobs for them, and their average starting salary has not increased since 2003, during which time the average starting salary for new factory workers has increased 80%. NYT has the story here

Update on Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 11:13AM by Registered CommenterSkeptic

China Digital Times reports here grim details about what happens to members of the "Ant Tribe" unable to find jobs suitable for their degrees. The Party leadership is concerned about this as a source of political instability.

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