America’s Income Gap Is Really an Education Gap

December 5, 2013

Perhaps nothing better illustrates the causes of income inequality in America today than the vast differences in educational attainment between high-income households and low-income households. Nearly 70 percent of Americans at the bottom end of the income scale have a high school degree or less, while just 10 percent have a college degree or more. At about $62,000 of income, a roughly equal percentage of workers have a high school degree (35 percent) as have a college degree (34 percent). However, at the top end of the income scale, nearly 80 percent of high-income households have a bachelor’s degree or higher, while less than 10 percent have only a high school diploma. Raising taxes on high-income taxpayers will not correct this education-based income disparity.

For more charts like the one below, see the second edition of our chart book, Putting a Face on America's Tax Returns.

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A tax is a mandatory payment or charge collected by local, state, and national governments from individuals or businesses to cover the costs of general government services, goods, and activities.