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Citation Information

Type Working Paper - Demography
Title The black gender gap in educational attainment: Historical trends and racial comparisons
Volume 48
Issue 3
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2011
Page numbers 889-914
URL http://econpapers.repec.org/article/sprdemogr/v_3a48_3ay_3a2011_3ai_3a3_3ap_3a889-914.htm
It is often asserted that the gender gap in educational attainment is larger for blacks than whites,
but the historical trends that lead up to the current situation have received surprisingly little
attention. Analysis of historical data from the U.S. Census IPUMS Samples shows that the
gender gap in college completion has evolved differently for whites and blacks. Historically, the
black female advantage in educational attainment is linked to more favorable labor market
opportunities and stronger incentives for employment for educated black women. Males of both
races have tended to delay completion of a college degree, but this pattern is disappearing as the
striking educational gains of white women have caused the racial patterns of gender differences
in college completion rates to grow more similar over time. Blacks in general and black males in
particular continue to lag far behind whites in their rates of college completion. While some
have linked the disadvantaged position of black males to their high risk of incarceration, our
estimates suggest that incarceration has a relatively small impact on the black gender gap and the
racial gap in college completion rates for males in the U.S.

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