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Putting the Co in Education: Timing, Reasons, and Consequences of College Coeducation from 1835 to the Present

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  • Claudia Goldin
  • Lawrence F. Katz

Abstract

The history of coeducation in U.S. higher education is explored through an analysis of a database containing information on all institutions offering four-year undergraduate degrees that operated in 1897, 1924, 1934, or 1980, most of which still exist today. These data reveal surprises about the timing of coeducation and the reasons for its increase. Rather than being episodic and caused by financial pressures brought about by wars and recessions, the process of switching from single-sex to coeducational colleges was relatively continuous from 1835 to the 1950s before it accelerated (especially for Catholic institutions) in the 1960s and 1970s. We explore the empirical implications of a model of switching from single-sex to coeducation in which schools that become coeducational face losing donations from existing alumni but, because they raise the quality of new students, increase other future revenues. We find that older and private single-sex institutions were slower to become coeducational and that institutions persisting as single sex into the 1970s had lower enrollment growth in the late 1960s and early 1970s than those that switched earlier. We also find that access to coeducational institutions in the first half of the twentieth century was associated with increased women's educational attainment. Coeducation mattered to women's education throughout U.S. history and it mattered to a greater extent in the more distant past than in the more recent and celebrated period of change.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 16281.

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Date of creation: Aug 2010
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Publication status: published as Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz, 2011. "Putting the “Co” in Education: Timing, Reasons, and Consequences of College Coeducation from 1835 to the Present," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 5(4), pages 377 - 417.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16281

Note: DAE ED
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Cited by:
  1. Schindler, Dirk & Schjelderup, Guttorm, 2012. "Debt shifting and ownership structure," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 56(4), pages 635-647.
  2. Gerald Eisenkopf & Zohal Hessami & Urs Fischbacher & Heinrich Ursprung, 2011. "Academic Performance and Single-Sex Schooling: Evidence from a Natural Experiment in Switzerland," Working Paper Series of the Department of Economics, University of Konstanz 2011-34, Department of Economics, University of Konstanz.
  3. Martha J. Bailey & Brad Hershbein & Amalia R. Miller, 2012. "The Opt-In Revolution? Contraception and the Gender Gap in Wages," NBER Working Papers 17922, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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