At Politico, former Clinton political strategist Doug Sosnik writes:
One factor that has perpetuated the income gap is educational achievement – the single best predictor for future financial success. Since educational opportunities are disproportionately afforded to families at the top of the income ladder, the children of the less fortunate are finding social advancement through educational achievement even more difficult.
A June 2013 Brookings Institution Hamilton Project report found that “children of well-off families are disproportionately likely to stay well off and children of poor families are very likely to remain poor.” High-income parents are investing more in their children, widening the gap between the children of the rich and poor in test scores, college attendance and graduation. These gaps – combined with expanding income inequality – further threaten the ability of the next generation to improve their lot in life. The report also cites an earlier 2010 Carnevale and Strohl study that found that in most selective higher education institutions “… the wealthiest students out-populate the poorest students by a margin of 14 to one.”
Research conducted by MIT economists Daron Acemoglu and David Autor in 2010 shows that for males, the wage gap by education began to widen in our country at the beginning of the 1980s. While male workers who went to graduate school before that time consistently outperformed everyone else in income levels, there was not a significant variation in wage levels among male workers who either graduated or attended college, graduated high school or dropped out before completing their studies. However, during the 1980s, a widening income gap emerged between college graduates and those with little or no college participation, making education the defining predictor of a person’s chances for financial success in the future.