According to the official labor statistics, people with advanced degrees (especially Ph.Ds) are making 2-4 millions $ more per their life time than HS graduates. I find it hard to believe. In my modest experience Ph.D. jobs in sciences will pay LESS than truck driving/electrician/skilled labor (on the average of course) in ones lifetime. Consider two 18y.o. folks A and B (both equal in their development). A decided to get a Ph.D., for example in microbiology, = 4 years in college to earn a BS (-$50K, at least). +5-8 years more in a graduate school to get a Ph.D. (if he's lucky he'll be on some kind of assistantship, so let's assume Ph.D. cost him just -$10k). A has got his Ph.D., he's found no "real" related job upon graduation (60-80% of the recent graduates could not find anything good too), he's forced to accept $26k/year postdoc and do mainly brain numbing technician job (his boss cannot hire a technician with Community college diploma for 26K; so he's using cheap Ph.D.s instead). Things turned ugly, no "real" job could be found for years, A is jumping from one 30K/no benefits postdoc to another for 3-10 years (majority of the stubborn ones do the same; those who got tired quit). Hurrah, after say 4 years of postdocing (optimistic estimate) 33y.o. A has gotten his first (optimistic estimate, most of the Ph.D.s never get to this stage) assistant professorship (roughly 50K/no life/constant stress/insane hours job/excellent weight loss). A needs to work like a horse for 6-7 years to get his tenure or get hell out. Getting a tenure is a tricky ruthless business, 30-40% of aspirants will not make it, failure to earn a tenure will make them almost unemployable in any area of the economy. Let assume A is a lucky one, he's got his 60k something associate professorship job and kept it for a while. Note, that majority of research universities pay only 30-50% of the 60K salary, the rest comes from grants A has won. In lean years (no fresh grants were won), salary of an unlucky professor may actually be on the level of that of McD worker. Then rough times has come multiple grant applications fell through, personal friction, etc. In two words, he’s forced to quit and look for another job. Bad luck here (in the best case) job search takes 1 year or more (-60K in the lost income). Finally, 45 y.o. A has landed his final 80k job (very optimistic). Note that A is an average WINNER of the Ph.D. rat race. There are roughly 3-4 LOSERS with Ph.D. for every winner. If A is doomed to be a loser (No "real" job ever was found or tenure fell through) he’ll be postdocing for 10 years until his middle aged ass will be unemployable (new fresh Ph.D. meat is ready for the consumption), he’ll be temporary lecturer for the rest of his miserable life (pays even less than postdocing), he’ll switch careers (very hard to do. Despite all education hype, real world is avoiding hiring Ph.D.s for non R&D positions at all cost.). Let’s look at equally gifted and hardworking B (who has an ass of steel to boot). He’s started his driving career at 18y.o. (small delivery vehicles, he’s too young to drive big rigs) his salary is roughly $10/hr (24k/year). He’s out of debt. He’s made 96k while A was taking loans to get his BS. B turned 22 y.o. he’s got his first big truck and makes $35k/year for 3-4 years. Having experience, 27 y.o. B may make up to 60k + benefits (person A is making 26k/no benefits at the same time). B is making investments, contributing to his retirement funds while A is thinking how to survive on his 26k. Add here that person B will be able to find a new job in several weeks without relocating, the person A will need to spend 1 year or more on the job search and he must relocate. If person B has chosen to be an electrician, he has very high chances to make 100K when he’s 33 y.o. (he’s as smart and industrious as the person A, after all). Etc. Etc. Etc. There is no way that the average WINNER of Ph.D. employment game (person A) will make more $ per life time than the average person B. If we will count all the losers with Ph.D., the income picture will become even more unfavorable towards the average folks with Ph.D. That is why statistics is misleading. It associates incomes with education only. It does not differentiate HS graduates according to their IQ, ability to work hard, people skills, etc. In other words the saying “the is a lie, a huge lie and statistics” proved itself correct again. You may say “But person A had more interesting job than person B”. I’ll say bull. 80% of Ph.D. job is much more brain numbing than truck driving. Considering rampant misuse of the fresh Ph.D.s to provide cheap laboratory labor, the % of brain numbing job is much higher for the recent victims of university industrial complex.