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Explaining the Worldwide Boom in Higher Education of Women

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  • Gary S. Becker
  • William H. J. Hubbard
  • Kevin M. Murphy

Abstract

The last 40 years have witnessed a remarkable boom in higher education, particularly of women. Today in most higher-income countries and many lower-income countries, more women than men complete tertiary education. We present a model of the market for college graduates in which supply is a function of the distribution of the costs and benefits of college across individuals. We find little evidence that benefits are higher for women. It appears that differences in the total costs of college for women and men--primarily differences in the distributions of noncognitive skills--explain the overtaking of men by women in higher education.

Suggested Citation

  • Gary S. Becker & William H. J. Hubbard & Kevin M. Murphy, 2010. "Explaining the Worldwide Boom in Higher Education of Women," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 4(3), pages 203-241.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jhucap:doi:10.1086/657914
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz & Ilyana Kuziemko, 2006. "The Homecoming of American College Women: The Reversal of the College Gender Gap," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(4), pages 133-156, Fall.
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    4. Jonathan Guryan & Erik Hurst & Melissa Kearney, 2008. "Parental Education and Parental Time with Children," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 22(3), pages 23-46, Summer.
    5. Thomas Diprete & Claudia Buchmann, 2006. "Gender-specific trends in the value of education and the emerging gender gap in college completion," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 43(1), pages 1-24, February.
    6. Joshua Angrist & Victor Lavy, 2009. "The Effects of High Stakes High School Achievement Awards: Evidence from a Randomized Trial," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(4), pages 1384-1414, September.
    7. Susan Dynarski, 2008. "Building the Stock of College-Educated Labor," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 43(3), pages 576-610.
    8. Wolfgang Lutz & Anne Goujon & Samir K.C. & Warren Sanderson, 2007. "Reconstruction of population by age, sex and level of educational attainment of 120 countries for 1970-2000," Vienna Yearbook of Population Research, Vienna Institute of Demography (VID) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna, vol. 5(1), pages 193-235.
    9. Bound, John & Griliches, Zvi & Hall, Bronwyn H, 1986. "Wages, Schooling and IQ of Brothers and Sisters: Do the Family Factors Differ?," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 27(1), pages 77-105, February.
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