Higher Education as a Driver of Economic Mobility (2018)

A majority of Californians believe that a college degree is important for an individual’s economic success in today’s economy. That belief is borne out in data showing that Californians with college degrees are more likely to be employed, earn higher wages, and have a job with good benefits. Yet 66% of adults in the state lack a bachelor’s degree, and despite the state’s growing economy, California has one of the highest rates of poverty and income inequality in the country.

This report from the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) examines the importance of higher education in promoting economic mobility in our state. College Futures Foundation provided a grant to support this research.

The state and its students have made significant gains in recent years to improve preparation, access, and success in college. More students are graduating from high school eligible for college, and California’s higher education systems are developing ambitious programs to increase transfer and graduation rates, especially for students of color and and low-income students.

PPIC identifies policies and practices that will continue to close equity gaps for current and future students:

  • California’s higher education systems must continue to improve the transfer pathway from high school, to community college, and to a four-year university so that more students earn a B.A. degree in a timely manner.
  • Campus-based programs that are closing equity gaps must be rigorously evaluated and promising practices should be scaled across our higher education systems.
  • Education and state leaders must examine how to expand capacity so that no qualified students are turned away and denied the opportunity to earn a college degree at a campus close to home.

Read the full report for more details on the myriad benefits of a college degree and the role each of California’s education sectors has to play in realizing the full potential of higher education as an engine of economic mobility.