Education and the Dynamics of Middle-Class Status

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The Brookings Institution


In this report, the authors provide some recent historical context relevant for considering the value of post-secondary education in providing access to the middle class. The authors look back over the past 40 years to assess the role college education has played in shaping entry into and persistence in the middle class for American households. Using data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) between 1980 and 2017, they study entry into and out of the middle class, and the role of education as determinant of a middle-class stability. They also examine how demographic factors interact with education to predict entry into and exit out of the middle class.



access to higher education, social mobility, middle class families