Monday, July 27, 2009
The Top Earning Degrees
A CNN Money article today lists the most lucrative undergraduate degrees (see the graphic above) and notes that, unsurprisingly, they all require math skills. A couple of thoughts on this. First, take a look at the first and third highest-paying degrees (petroleum and mining engineering, respectively). I've argued in the past for the economic benefits of facilitating more domestic natural resources production (e.g., here and here). One of the benefits I've noted is that natural resources extraction tends to create a lot of high-paying blue collar jobs. As this CNN article notes, it also creates high-paying professional jobs, which is another benefit.
Consider the benefits to California, for example, if it dropped its opposition to expanding offshore drilling. For one thing, it might improve the state's environment by reducing natural oil seepage. It would also generate much-needed royalty revenue for the state (in fact, the state could capture that revenue up front by issuing revenue bonds backed by those future royalty income streams). In addition, how many jobs would it create for petroleum engineers and oil rig workers? Couldn't California use the additional net tax payers and potential home buyers these workers would represent?
Another thought: given that the fifteen most lucrative college majors require math aptitude, does it make sense that the SAT has reduced the relative weight of its math section in the total SAT score from one half to one third (by adding an equal-weighed essay section to the math and verbal sections)?