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The Unequal Distribution of Economic Education : A Report on the Race, Ethnicity, and Gender of Economics Majors at US Colleges and Universities

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  • Amanda S. Bayer
  • David W. Wilcox

Abstract

The distribution of economic education among US college graduates is quite unequal: female and underrepresented minority undergraduates, collectively, major in economics at 0.36 the rate that white, non-Hispanic male students do. This paper makes a four-part contribution to address this imbalance. First and foremost, we provide detailed comparative data at the institution level to provoke and inform the attention of economists and senior administrators at colleges and universities, among others. Second, we establish a definition of full inclusion in economic education on college and university campuses and use that definition to evaluate the status quo and to compare institutions. Third, we illuminate the reasons why the need to improve the distribution of economic education is urgent, including the imperative to support economic policymaking. Lastly, we point the way forward, identifying both currently available resources and reasonable next steps for all involved parties to take.

Suggested Citation

  • Amanda S. Bayer & David W. Wilcox, 2017. "The Unequal Distribution of Economic Education : A Report on the Race, Ethnicity, and Gender of Economics Majors at US Colleges and Universities," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2017-105, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2017-105
    DOI: 10.17016/FEDS.2017.105
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Denise Robson, 2001. "Women and Minorities in Economics Textbooks: Are They Being Adequately Represented?," The Journal of Economic Education, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 32(2), pages 186-191, January.
    2. Arcidiacono, Peter, 2004. "Ability sorting and the returns to college major," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 121(1-2), pages 343-375.
    3. Philip Oreopoulos & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2011. "Priceless: The Nonpecuniary Benefits of Schooling," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 25(1), pages 159-184, Winter.
    4. Amanda Bayer & Cecilia Elena Rouse, 2016. "Diversity in the Economics Profession: A New Attack on an Old Problem," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 30(4), pages 221-242, Fall.
    5. Sam Allgood & Amanda Bayer, 2017. "Learning Outcomes for Economists," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 107(5), pages 660-664, May.
    6. Ann Mari May & Mary G. Mcgarvey & Robert Whaples, 2014. "Are Disagreements Among Male And Female Economists Marginal At Best?: A Survey Of Aea Members And Their Views On Economics And Economic Policy," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 32(1), pages 111-132, January.
    7. Robert B. Lount & Oliver J. Sheldon & Floor Rink & Katherine W. Phillips, 2015. "Biased Perceptions of Racially Diverse Teams and Their Consequences for Resource Support," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 26(5), pages 1351-1364, October.
    8. Cynthia Bansak & Martha Starr, 2010. "Gender Differences in Predispositions towards Economics," Eastern Economic Journal, Palgrave Macmillan;Eastern Economic Association, vol. 36(1), pages 33-57.
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    Cited by:

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    2. Amanda Bayer & Gregory Bruich & Raj Chetty & Andrew Housiaux, 2020. "Expanding and diversifying the pool of undergraduates who study economics: Insights from a new introductory course at Harvard," The Journal of Economic Education, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 51(3-4), pages 364-379, September.
    3. Megalokonomou, Rigissa & Vidal-Fernandez, Marian & Yengin, Duygu, 2021. "Underrepresentation of Women in Undergraduate Economics Degrees in Europe: A Comparison with STEM and Business," IZA Policy Papers 175, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    4. Roland Happ & Susanne Schmidt & Olga Zlatkin-Troitschanskaia & William Walstad, 2023. "How Gender and Primary Language Influence the Acquisition of Economic Knowledge of Secondary School Students in the United States and Germany," JRFM, MDPI, vol. 16(3), pages 1-14, March.
    5. Depro, Brooks & Rouse, Kathryn, 2022. "Adapting the case method in an economics capstone research course," International Review of Economics Education, Elsevier, vol. 41(C).
    6. Salim Atay & Gunes A. Asik & Semih Tumen, 2024. "Impact of Graduating with Honours on Entry Wages of Economics Majors," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 86(3), pages 606-640, June.
    7. Sarah F. Small, 2023. "Infusing Diversity in a History of Economic Thought Course: An Archival Study of Syllabi and Resources for Redesign," Eastern Economic Journal, Palgrave Macmillan;Eastern Economic Association, vol. 49(3), pages 276-311, June.

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    Keywords

    Education; Ethnicity; Race;
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