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June 28, 2006


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This analysis is a bit misleading, because it doesn't account for the time value of money. If you want to net up future income potential, you minimally should do so in real terms (i.e., on an inflation-adjusted basis); otherwise you're presuming long term real terms wage inflation, which could only result from sustained productivity growth.

In practice any econometically reliable estimate for expected lifetime earnings is fairly tricky to calculate. For instance, earnings do funny things over a lifetime -- on a normalised basis they rise and then fall (an upside-down u-shape curve).

However as an illustration, the US Census Bureau's synethetic work-life estimates for full-time year-round workers (itself, a simplifying assumption, as many people will not work full-time for their whole careers) from the '98-'00 US Census data are:

Doctoral degree: $3.4m
Professional degree: $4.4m
Masters degree: $2.5m
Bachelors degree: $2.1m
Associates degree: $1.6m
Some college: $1.5m
High school graduate: $1.2m
Non-high school graduate: $1.0m


Earning $2.3 Million a year when they're 65? Impressive if you can get it.

No kidding, Rob. I think of myself as well paid and was trying to compute how the heck they came up with a 25.2 million figure.

People need to realize that there's a limit to earnings growth. If you are starting out at 40K, yeah expecting 3%+ raises is fine. Once you hit somewhere in the neighborhood of 150-200K, good luck. I'm sorry, but if everyone's earning 2.3 million (today dollars) a year at 65, that means we are all CEOs of highly successful companies. Highly unrealistic. It doesn't undermine the main point, but I wish publications would stop using simplistic math that leads to (faulty) sensationalist results.

Ya and who is in their career @ 22 not many people I know these days its more like 28-30

As of Friday, May 16, 2008, I graduated with a Masters of Arts Degree in Education Administration from Lindenwood University. Two weeks later, I recieved my report card in the mail that indicated that I have a cumulative grade point average (GPA)of a 4.00. With these grades and current degree, where can I find some free money to fund my educational goal to attain a doctorate degree by this summer? Can you help me? I cannot receive any more student loans at this point in time.

Oh how times have changed! People today are lucky just to have a job. I know people with masters degrees making $20,000 a year. Ain't going to make millions that way! With all the tech and innovation these days, humans are all going to become redundant.

I don't know who t.f. actually received $42,500 per year after graduation. I don't ever see how these figures are calculated. What is with the signing bonus figure?

All I can say is that I've consistently reviewed classified job ads for years, and haven't ever seen those figures batted around for entry-level new grads. Never.

It does say they "expect[ed]" those amounts.

Matt --

This post is two years old. A lot has happened between then and now, or haven't you noticed?

Quite a lot has happened between now and June 28, 2006 for sure. Back then we thought that real estate was going to keep going up forever. Back then, we thought that we were invincible; our economy is so closely linked to the world's that we thought that the other countries could literally not afford to let us fail. Well, they did and now the world is paying the piper.

This 25.2 million figure is ridiculously big and not accurate, given the current situation. This year's grads are generally still unemployed. It's hard, as they still have their student loans from when the going was good.

Matt, not that you're going to read this but I shall comment anyway :)

That 42.5 figure is an average, to begin with. Then you have to think of the different industries that graduates enter when they graduate from college. For example, you can go into investment banking, management consulting, or engineering, and have some of the highest starting salaries of all graduates (entry-level).

Investment banking analyst salaries are still high even now in 2009. They start anywhere between 65-70 with a 10 signing bonus (and the year end bonus hasn't even been included yet). This is standard practice in that industry. Look it up.

Management consulting analysts are not much lower at 60-65 starting salary (again not including potential bonuses).

Of course, engineering grads start quite high as well, anywhere between the lower end civil engineering (primarily government jobs) to the higher end chemical/biomedical/aerospace engineering. They start between 45 and 70.

There are other occupations that pay well starting out of college as well.. accounting for a Big 4, for example.

Of course there are also some grads that will go and work at a non-profit for 25/year. However, I would say that a vast majority of grads will be starting between 30 and 40/year (myself included when I graduate next month) and will go from there.

Anyway the point of my post is that the number 42.5 is an average, which is composed of numbers anywhere between 25 and 75. Those making very high starting salaries are very few compared to those making lower salaries, which skews results.

These are interesting figures but I think it fails to consider social aspects of making money and net worth. We've all heard this one before but consider the doctor who makes 250k/year but has the new sports car payments, club membership due and 100 feet of lake shore. Just because someone makes a lot of dough doesn't mean they don't or won't have other things to pay for.

WOW! I am currently in grad school and I can't imagine when I am 65 to be earning over a million. It is hard enough to find a job now and make a decent salary. I believe that you can make great money if you put the time in and work hard. I believe no matter how much you make, the more you will spend to look good in your income bracket. When you work hard, you want other to know but dont let it get to your head and lose close friends.

That is crazy how much of a difference a couple percent of salary increase can make over the span of your career. I better start working my butt of to get a good salary increase this year.

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