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Economic Brief

July 10, 2018

Richmond Fed Brief Examines Slowdown in Educational Attainment

The latest Richmond Fed Economic Brief asks why the United States does not produce more college graduates in response to a large and persistent wage gap between workers who graduated from college and those who did not.

Senior policy economist Urvi Neelakantan and economics writer Jessie Romero consider several factors that may help answer this question, including inadequate preparation during K–12 years, which makes it more difficult for students to succeed in college. The authors discuss how K–12 preparation varies with socioeconomic status and how “school choice” initiatives are intended to give more children access to high-quality schools.

The brief is a condensed version of “Falling Short,” the essay featured in the Bank’s annual report for 2017. The brief also is part of the Richmond Fed’s Economic Brief series, which provides web-exclusive essays on current economic issues and trends. Sign up to receive an email notification when a new brief is posted.


As part of our nation’s central bank, the Richmond Fed is one of 12 regional Reserve Banks working together with the Board of Governors to support a healthy economy and deliver on our mission to foster economic stability and strength. We connect with community and business leaders across the Fifth Federal Reserve District—including the Carolinas, District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, and most of West Virginia—to monitor economic conditions, address issues facing our communities, and share this information with monetary and financial policymakers. We also work with banks to ensure they are operating safely and soundly, supply financial institutions with currency that’s fit for distribution, and provide a safe and efficient way to transfer funds through our nation’s payments system.

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