Education and Income:  The National Scene

Mean and Median Family Income Data *:

  • The 1996 median income for college-educated US families was just under $70,000 (mean income was over $85,000);
  • The 1996 median income for high school-educated (or GED) US families was just under $38,600 (mean income was just over $45,000);
  • As with income distribution above, some college work and earning an associate degree progressively increase median and mean family incomes towards the levels of college-educated families.

(Source: USCB, Money Income in the US: 1996)

Technical Note:
*  Mean income is sensitive to extreme values (especially on the open-ended high side) and is therefore greater than median income.   Median income indicates the income level above which half of the observations lie, without further sensitivity to individual magnitudes.   The relationship between educational attainment and income may be exagerated by the mean incomes, since they are sensitive to (i.e., "inflated by") even a small number of high incomes.

Revised 11-24-97