Adults with bachelor's degrees in the late 1970s earned 55 percent more than adults who had not advanced beyond high school. That gap grew to 75 percent by 1990, and is now at 85 percent.
The margin is smaller, though still sizable, when adults with bachelor's degrees are compared to counterparts who hold advanced degrees. The latter earned 35 percent more during the late 1970s, a difference that has expanded to 45 percent today.
The U.S. Census Bureau reports this summary of average earnings based on the latest data:
- $83,144 for those with an advanced degree
- $58,613 for those with a bachelor's degree only
- $31,283 for those with a high school diploma only