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Explaining the Worldwide Boom in Higher Education of Women

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  • Gary S. Becker

    (University of Chicago)

  • William Hubbard

    (University of Chicago Law School)

  • Kevin Murphy

    (University of Chicago Booth School of Business and Department of Economics)

Abstract

The last forty years have witnessed a remarkable boom in higher education around the world. Importantly, the boom in higher education has been concentrated among women, such that today in most higher-income countries, and many lower-income countries, more women than men attend and complete tertiary education. We present a model that explains the increase in higher education, particularly among women, in terms of a market for college graduates in which the supply of college graduates is function of the distribution of the costs and benefits of higher education across individuals. Examining evidence on these costs and benefits, we find no clear evidence that benefits are greater for women than men. Instead, it appears that differences in the total costs of college for women and men - primarily due to differences in the distributions of non-cognitive skills for women and men - explain the overtaking of men by women in higher education.

Suggested Citation

  • Gary S. Becker & William Hubbard & Kevin Murphy, 2010. "Explaining the Worldwide Boom in Higher Education of Women," Working Papers 2010-009, Becker Friedman Institute for Research In Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:bfi:wpaper:2010-009
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    File URL: https://econresearch.uchicago.edu/sites/econresearch.uchicago.edu/files/MFI-2010-009.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    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.
    2. 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.
    3. Susan Dynarski, 2008. "Building the Stock of College-Educated Labor," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 43(3), pages 576-610.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. Philip Oreopoulos & Daniel Lang & Joshua Angrist, 2009. "Incentives and Services for College Achievement: Evidence from a Randomized Trial," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 136-163, January.
    7. 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.
    8. Esther Duflo, 2000. "Child Health and Household Resources in South Africa: Evidence from the Old Age Pension Program," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(2), pages 393-398, May.
    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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