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Where the boys aren't: Non-cognitive skills, returns to school and the gender gap in higher education

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  • Brian A. Jacob
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    Abstract

    Nearly 60 percent of college students today are women. Using longitudinal data on a nationally representative cohort of eighth grade students in 1988, I examine two potential explanations for the differential attendance rates of men and women -- returns to schooling and non-cognitive skills. The attendance gap is roughly five percentage points for all high school graduates. Conditional on attendance, however, there are few differences in type of college, enrollment status or selectivity of institution. The majority of the attendance gap can be explained by differences in the characteristics of men and women, despite some gender differences in the determinants of college attendance. I find that higher non-cognitive skills and college premiums among women account for nearly 90 percent of the gender gap in higher education. Interestingly, non-cognitive factors continue to influence college enrollment after controlling for high school achievement.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 8964.

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    Date of creation: May 2002
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    Publication status: published as Jacob, Brian. “Where the Boys Aren’t: Non-Cognitive Skills, Returns to School and the Gender Gap in Higher Education.” Economics of Education Review 21 (2002): 589-598.
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8964

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    1. F. L. Jones, 1983. "On Decomposing the Wage Gap: A Critical Comment on Blinder's Method," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 18(1), pages 126-130.
    2. Richard J. Murnane & John B. Willett & Frank Levy, 1995. "The Growing Importance of Cognitive Skills in Wage Determination," NBER Working Papers 5076, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Murphy, Kevin M & Welch, Finis, 1992. "The Structure of Wages," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(1), pages 285-326, February.
    4. Alan S. Blinder, 1973. "Wage Discrimination: Reduced Form and Structural Estimates," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 8(4), pages 436-455.
    5. David Neumark, 1988. "Employers' Discriminatory Behavior and the Estimation of Wage Discrimination," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 23(3), pages 279-295.
    6. Reimers, Cordelia W, 1983. "Labor Market Discrimination against Hispanic and Black Men," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 65(4), pages 570-79, November.
    7. Altonji, Joseph G, 1993. "The Demand for and Return to Education When Education Outcomes Are Uncertain," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 11(1), pages 48-83, January.
    8. Oaxaca, Ronald, 1973. "Male-Female Wage Differentials in Urban Labor Markets," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 14(3), pages 693-709, October.
    9. Levy, Frank & Murnane, Richard J, 1992. "U.S. Earnings Levels and Earnings Inequality: A Review of Recent Trends and Proposed Explanations," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 30(3), pages 1333-81, September.
    10. Cotton, Jeremiah, 1988. "On the Decomposition of Wage Differentials," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 70(2), pages 236-43, May.
    11. Oaxaca, Ronald L. & Ransom, Michael R., 1994. "On discrimination and the decomposition of wage differentials," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 61(1), pages 5-21, March.
    12. Ronald L. Oaxaca & Michael R. Ransom, 1999. "Identification in Detailed Wage Decompositions," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(1), pages 154-157, February.
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