The U. S. College Graduate

By F. Lawrence Babcock | Go to book overview
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Chapter 4
The Graduate Bloc as a Working Body

Judged by the standards of a militaristic totalitarian state, the College Bloc would be held guilty of decadence for not begetting its share of the nation's children. Judged by the most materialistic test of a capitalist economy, on the other hand, it would be acknowledged as a howling success -- from the fact, later discussed, that it earns a great many more dollars per family than does the national average. But there is one set of values that has a universal currency, quite irrespective of political philosophy. And that is the value of work, the dynamic contribution of the individual to making tick the society in which he lives. If, in the midst of unemployment, a large group of individuals is for the most part employed, that group has a proven adaptability to the needs of its environment, and stands as a source of strength opposing a weakness. If, in a highly complex, urbanized industrial civilization the members of that group are for the most part performing functions essential to that civilization, then the group represents a powerful force for its preservation.

Measured by such values, U. S. college graduates show up conspicuously as valuable partners in American democracy. For one thing, they were mostly employed at a time ( 1940) when large numbers of their adult fellow citizens were not, as follows:

Occupational Status of Men and Women Graduates
Gainfully employed92.0%56.3%91.0%
Retired (and/or widows)2.93.8
On relief.2.1

These figures are a remarkable demonstration of the degree to which college graduates are adapted to filling a useful place in the nation's economy -- by having work to do when millions of others have none. Unemployment figures among them are extremely low, and, by age breakdown, are found to be accounted for mainly by


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