THE EXPERT WITNESS: What we earn (continued)


The margins between these two groups put the Professionals 29% ahead of the Doctorates by their late thirties. The earnings gap for the two groups narrows to 15% by their mid-to-late fifties. Professionals experience a slight downturn while the earnings of the Doctorates remain virtually flat. Then something happens that seems unique to these two groups. Their real earnings begin to rise again as they approach their benefit-eligibility ages. Overall, those with Doctorates appear to experience an 85% increase in real earnings during a “standard” work life while the Professionals mark a 119% increase during the same period.

The “second-wind” effect that leads to increased earnings by Professionals and Doctorates later in life stand in contrast to the experiences at all other levels of educational attainment. Second-wind may point to a number of possible events. Perhaps those who cannot stand the heat leave early. Alternately, we may attribute this phenomenon to the ongoing accumulation of Intellectual Capital, in which one grows wise rather than simply growing old. Another thought is that many persons who earn doctorates and professional degrees do not complete all of the requirements for their mortarboards until the ages of thirty or forty. Based upon the investment of time and money up to that point, a “standard” work life of forty years may extend until the ages of seventy or eighty. Then again, some of us may keep going until our nineties as life expectancy increases.

Prospettiva Takeaway

Thus far, I have determined that the progression of real earnings appears to increase with the levels of education and work experience. However, within each educational-attainment cohort we may expect to find a lot of variation in the microdata. Bear in mind that some individuals defy the average. For example, our current President received a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania. However, he has more than managed to outperform the real earnings of most persons who have attained a Master’s Degree or higher. However, one may not need much in the way of formal education if all that s/he desires is the accumulation of money, power, and stuff. Many roads to that goal are moral as well as legal.

Hopefully, those of us who survived the raising of our collective consciousness in the 1960s and have retained our visions through the present decade may remember that education requires a drawing out from oneself in order to grow in knowledge and understanding while attaining a reasonable level of cosmic awareness at the same time. Many of us stand by our belief that the mere accumulation of the trappings of material wealth provides only the superficiality that surrounds real wealth. By its very nature, the pursuit of this shell of trappings exists as an insatiable, never-realizable goal because the real wealth held by the philosopher’s pearl of wisdom within the shell never materializes. Like hamsters in pursuit of freedom from our cages, we continue to run on our “wheels of empty quest” while remaining trapped unconsciously in a prison of our own making.

However, I digress ...
Smoke ‘em if you have ‘em.
Dr. John F. Sase teaches Economics at Wayne State University and has practiced Forensic and Investigative Economics for twenty years. He earned a combined M.A. in Economics and an MBA at the University of Detroit, followed by a Ph.D. in Economics from Wayne State University. He is a graduate of the University of Detroit Jesuit High School (

Gerard J. Senick is a freelance writer, editor, and musician. He earned his degree in English at the University of Detroit and was a supervisory editor at Gale Research Company (now Cengage) for over twenty years. Currently, he edits books for publication (

Julie G. Sase is a copyeditor, parent coach, and empath. She earned her degree in English at Marygrove College and her graduate certificate in Parent Coaching from Seattle Pacific University. Ms. Sase coaches clients, writes articles, and edits copy (