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October 2012 Volume 19 Number 4
Foreign-Born, Ed, Health
The US had 40 million foreign-born residents in 2010, including 17 million who were naturalized US citizens, 12 million who were legal immigrants and temporary visitors, and 11.2 million who were unauthorized. About 20 percent of the 50 million K-12 public school students were from immigrant households.<< back
Hispanic youth in the US are getting more education. Over three-fourths of Hispanics 18 to 24 had a high-school diploma in 2011, and almost half of Hispanics 18 to 24 with a high-school diploma were in college. Hispanics are approaching Black college-enrollment rates; 80 percent of Blacks 18 to 24 completed high school, and almost half of Blacks 18 to 24 with a high-school diploma were in college. However, Hispanics are much more likely than Blacks to go to community colleges rather than four-year colleges.
Education. Student loan debt topped $1 trillion in 2011, including over 85 percent federal government loans. The $150 billion in private student loans are most likely to go into default. Lenders lowered standards on such loans and marketed them to students who enrolled in a variety of for-profit colleges and training institutions.
The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee released a report in July 2012 that criticized for-profit higher education institutions, which received $32 billion in taxpayer funds in 2010, mostly to provide loans to students. Over half of those who begin courses at for-profits leave without earning a degree; most quit within a few months of enrolling. Some 2.4 million students were enrolled in for-profits in 2008, three-fourths at colleges owned by publicly traded companies.
The Senate report noted that at 30 for-profits, over 40 percent of revenue went to recruiting and profits, while less than 20 percent went to instruction. The Apollo Group, which operates the University of Phoenix, depends primarily on federal Pell grants and Stafford loans to support its students. Over 95 percent of students at for-profit schools take out loans, compared with about less than 15 percent at community colleges and less than half at four-year public universities.
College graduates earn about 70 percent more than high-school graduates, but only about two-thirds of high-school graduates enroll in college; of those who enroll, up to half do not graduate. Studies of the factors considered by high-school graduates when they weigh going to college focus on factors that include the wage premium for college graduates, the cost of college, and the risk that students will take on debt and not graduate or not use the skills acquired in college in their jobs.
The growth in the number of college graduates around the world is lowering their entry-level wages, which were lower in 2011 than in 2000. One study found that a quarter of the students graduating from US colleges in 2011 did not use college-learned skills a year later in their current jobs and another quarter were not employed.
However, studies suggest that US workers with college degrees continue to earn more than those without. For example, in 2010, workers age 23 to 25 with college degrees earned an average of $29,164, or $12,127 more than the $17,036 earned by their peers with a high school but no higher education. College-educated youth were also more likely to be employed than youth without college degrees.
Enrollment in US graduate schools fell slightly in 2010-11 according to the Council of Graduate Schools, while enrollment of foreign students rose. In 2010-11, foreign students were over 45 percent of those enrolled in US engineering graduate programs and over 42 percent of those enrolled in US mathematics and computer science graduate programs. About 58 percent of all those enrolled in graduate programs were women.
Differences in college completion rates help to explain growing inequality; those who complete college earn more. However, the college advantage is compounded by behavioral changes as well. Over 40 percent of births occur outside marriage, up from less than 20 percent in 1980. Married college-educated parents have higher incomes than single parents who did not complete college.
Better-off Americans marry each other, and marriage helps them and their children to stay privileged, explaining the so-called diverging destinies of children with and without married parents. Households with children at the 90th percentile of incomes have 10 times more money than those at the 10th percentile, double the gap of 1970.
Charles Murray's book, Coming Apart, The State of White America, 1960-2010, chronicles the rise of single motherhood among whites. Murray attributes the decline of marriage among the less educated to changing values while others point to declining economic opportunity, emphasizing that the failure of the economy to generate good jobs for young people without college degrees leads to postponement of marriages that then sometimes do not occur. Women without college degrees are more likely to be single parents, and to have children with multiple men, than college-educated women.
The US Supreme Court is considering another affirmative action case. In Grutter v. Bolinger (2003), the Court ruled 5-4 that the race-conscious admissions policy used by the University of Michigan's Law School was constitutional because each student was evaluated individually, and the school was committed to having a "critical mass" of underrepresented minority students. The Court found this admissions policy to be constitutional because its use of race was "narrowly tailored" to further a compelling interest in the educational benefits that flow from a diverse student body.
In Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, to be argued in October 2012, a white student who was not admitted in 2008 argued that the Texas Top Ten Percent admissions policy that accepts the top 10 percent of each Texas high school's graduating class was unconstitutional. About 80 percent of UT students are admitted under the Top Ten Percent policy, and the remaining 20 percent are admitted after individual reviews that include race. Fisher was not in the top 10 percent of her class and was not admitted after individual consideration.
Chicago teachers went on strike in September 2012 to protest a plan that ties teacher evaluations to changes in student test scores. Technology has made it easier to track student performance on standardized tests over time, and many researchers, as well as the US Department of Education under its Race to the Top initiative, want to use test scores in teacher evaluations. Teachers unions protest that many factors determine student achievement, not just their performance in the classroom.
Health. Some 160 million US residents, over half, receive health insurance from their employers. State exchanges that offer "essential health benefits" to individuals are to begin operation in 2014, although half of the states may not establish exchanges, forcing the federal government to step in and operate them. Low-income individuals will receive subsidies expected to average $6,000 per person per year to buy health insurance via state exchanges.
Employers with an average 50 or more full-time workers (employed 30 hours or more a week during a month) during the previous year must provide health insurance after January 1, 2014 to "substantially all" of their full-time employees or pay a penalty of $2,000 per worker per year (after the first 30 employees). For employees earning less than 400 percent of the federal poverty line of $11,170 for one person in 2012, employers must pay 60 percent of the employee's health insurance premium and the employee share cannot be more than 9.8 percent of household income.
Seasonal workers employed by one employer less than 120 days a year are exempt from the employer health-insurance mandate.
A July 2012 survey found that 10 percent of employers who now provide health insurance plan to drop this benefit over the next three years. Unions representing low-wage workers expect some employers with 50 or more workers who now offer health insurance to drop it, since penalties of $2,000 per worker per year (after the first 30 employees) are less than the amount that these employers are now paying for health insurance. One employer estimated that dropping health insurance would reduce insurance payments from $11 million a year to $4 million a year in penalties. Even with a $2 an hour increase in wages to offset the employees' loss of health insurance, this employer would save money.
About 10 percent of the two million plus workers employed for wages some time during a typical year on farms have some kind of employer-provided health insurance.
The 11.2 million unauthorized foreigners in the US are not covered by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. So-called safety-net hospitals that treat the uninsured, including unauthorized foreigners, have been receiving $20 billion a year because of their high share of uninsured patients. The Obama administration wants to reduce this aid to $10 billion a year by 2019, generating protests from hospitals required by federal law to treat all patients who arrive at the emergency room, regardless of legal status or ability to pay.
Medical groups recommend one doctor per 1,000 people, or 100 per 100,000 residents, including 70 percent primary care physicians. One study found that in 2010 primary care doctors earned an average of $200,000 a year, half the average earnings of specialists. The expanded number of insured Americans is expected to worsen shortages of primary care doctors in many regions. Many of the newly insured will be under Medicaid; about half of US primary care doctors are not accepting new Medicaid patients, citing low payment rates. Massachusetts has the highest ratio of doctors to residents, over 400 per 100,000.
Grieco, Elizabeth, Yesenia Acosta, G. Patricia de la Cruz, Christine Gambino, Thomas Gryn, Luke Larsen, Edward Trevelyan, and Nathan Walters. 2012. The Foreign-Born Population of the US. 2010. ACS-19. May. www.census.gov/population/foreign/