Bloomberg Anywhere Remote Login Bloomberg Terminal Demo Request


Connecting decision makers to a dynamic network of information, people and ideas, Bloomberg quickly and accurately delivers business and financial information, news and insight around the world.


Financial Products

Enterprise Products


Customer Support

  • Americas

    +1 212 318 2000

  • Europe, Middle East, & Africa

    +44 20 7330 7500

  • Asia Pacific

    +65 6212 1000


Industry Products

Media Services

Follow Us

College Dream Dashed for Children of the Less-Schooled

The U.S. has long touted its record of sending disadvantaged children to college. That pride is now misplaced, a study found.

The odds that a young person in the U.S. will go to college if their parents haven’t -- 29 percent -- are among the lowest of developed countries. That’s according to a report released today by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation & Development.

The results indicated the challenge of one of President Barack Obama’s economic and educational goals: increasing college attainment in the U.S. relative to other countries. The U.S. ranks 14th among 37 countries in the percentage of 25- to 34-year-olds with higher education. A generation ago, the U.S. ranked among the top in the world.

“The odds that a young person will be in higher education if his or her family has a low level of education are particularly small in the U.S.,” the report said.

Declining economic mobility in the U.S. has been the subject of social science research that challenges one of the mainstays of the American dream -- children bettering their parents. The issue, particularly for the middle class, lies at the heart of this year’s presidential campaign between Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

In the study, the U.S. ranked below all countries except Canada and New Zealand in sending the children of less educated parents to four-year colleges.

Education Inequity

The evidence suggests a culprit: inequity among elementary and high school students, such as the concentration of immigrants and other disadvantaged citizens in lower-quality schools, according to Andreas Schleicher, the international organization’s deputy director for education.

Rising college tuition doesn’t seem to account for the difference, though U.S. student-loan levels could, Schleicher said in a briefing with reporters. Higher education debt has reached $1 trillion, raising alarm among families.

The U.S. still has a leg up in higher education because of its older population. In the U.S., 42 percent of 25- to 64-year-olds have a college degree, a percentage lagging only Canada, Israel, Japan and Russia.

With other countries making gains and less advantaged families left behind, the U.S. faces a risk that could damage its international competitiveness, Schleicher said.

In the U.S., “there are real challenges in terms of social and economic mobility,” he said.

Please upgrade your Browser

Your browser is out-of-date. Please download one of these excellent browsers:

Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera or Internet Explorer.