Central Data Catalog

Citation Information

Type Working Paper
Title Race and the Growing Female Advantage in Educational Attainment: A Trend Comparison
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2009
URL http://www.columbia.edu/~tad61/Race_gender_020609.pdf
It is well known 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. Using historical data from the U.S. Census Integrated Public
Use Microdata Samples and the Current Population Surveys, we find that the gender gap
in college completion has evolved differently for whites and blacks. The relative (to men)
educational position of black women has long been more favorable than that of white
women, but the female-favorable educational trends of the past 60 years are far stronger
for whites than for blacks. Continuing black female gains are largely due to their
relatively higher rates of transition to postsecondary education. White female gains have
come from female favorable trends in four-year college completion given secondary
education, as well as in the transition to postsecondary education. Both black and white
males were much more likely than females to delay completion of college in earlier
years, but this gender difference has diminished. The general trend is for racial
convergence in the age pattern of college completion, and for the black gender gap to
resemble the white gender gap, even as overall rates of college completion by blacks
remain far below those of whites of both genders.

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