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The Meaning of College in the Lives of American Women: The Past One-Hundred Years

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  • Claudia Goldin

Abstract

Three cohorts of college women are considered here. The first, graduating from 1900 to 1920, was faced with a choice of "family or career,? while the second, graduating from 1945 to the early 1960s, opted for family and employment serially - that is, "family then job." The third, graduating since 1980 in a climate of greater gender equality, is attempting both "family and career, " with mixed results and considerable frustration. This paper assesses the reasons for the changing set of tradeoffs each generation of college women faced and why the college education of women expanded in the post-World War II era. The first cohort attended college when the numbers of men and women in college were about equal, while the second attended college when the proportion of all undergraduates who were male was at an all-time high. Only half of the return to college for the second cohort came in the form of their B.A. degrees, while the other half came from their Mrs. degrees. Ironically, because the total return to college -- from the B.A. and Mrs. degrees -- was quite high, enrollments of women expanded rapidly and eventually gave rise to a demand for greater gender equality in the labor market and society.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 4099.

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Date of creation: Jun 1992
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4099

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Cited by:
  1. Philip Oreopoulos & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2009. "How large are returns to schooling? Hint: Money isn't everything," NBER Working Papers 15339, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Dan Anderberg & Yu Zhu, 2014. "What a difference a term makes: the effect of educational attainment on marital outcomes in the UK," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 27(2), pages 387-419, April.
  3. Dora L. Costa & Matthew E. Kahn, 2000. "Power Couples: Changes In The Locational Choice Of The College Educated, 1940-1990," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(4), pages 1287-1315, November.
  4. Philip Oreopoulos & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2011. "Priceless: The Nonpecuniary Benefits of Schooling," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 25(1), pages 159-84, Winter.
  5. Kremer, M., 1996. "How Much Does Sorting Increase Inequality?," Working papers 96-18, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  6. Pieter Gautier & Michael Svarer & Coen Teulings, 2005. "Testing for Additive Outliers in Seasonally Integrated Time Series," Economics Working Papers 2005-01, School of Economics and Management, University of Aarhus.
  7. Claudia Goldin, 2004. "The Long Road to the Fast Track: Career and Family," NBER Working Papers 10331, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Nielsen, Helena Skyt & Svarer, Michael, 2006. "Educational Homogamy: Preferences or Opportunities?," IZA Discussion Papers 2271, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. Pieter A. Gautier & Michael Svarer & Coen N. Teulings, 2005. "Marriage and the City," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 05-015/3, Tinbergen Institute.
  10. repec:dgr:uvatin:2005015 is not listed on IDEAS
  11. José-Víctor Ríos-Rull & Virginia Sánchez-Marcos, 2002. "College Attainment of Women," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 5(4), pages 965-998, October.

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