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Why Have Girls Gone to College? A Quantitative Examination of the Female College Enrollment Rate in the United States: 1955-1980

  • Hui He

    ()

    (Department of Economics, University of Hawaii at Manoa)

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This paper documents a dramatic increase in the college enrollment rate of women from 1955 to 1980 and asks a quantitative question: to what extent can such change be accounted for by the change in the female cohort-specific college wage premium? I develop and calibrate an overlapping generations model with discrete schooling choice. I find that changes in the life-cycle earnings differential can explain the increase in female college enrollment rate very well. Young women's changing expectations of future employment opportunity also played an important role in driving their college attendance decision from the mid 1950s to the early 1970s.

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File URL: http://www.economics.hawaii.edu/research/workingpapers/WP_09-12.pdf
File Function: First version, 2009
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Paper provided by University of Hawaii at Manoa, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 200912.

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Length: 38 pages
Date of creation: 01 Oct 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hai:wpaper:200912
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  1. Orazio Attanasio & Hamish Low & Virginia Sanchez-Marcos, 2008. "Explaining Changes in Female Labor Supply in a Life-Cycle Model," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(4), pages 1517-52, September.
  2. 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.
  3. Heckman, James J. & Lochner, Lance John & Todd, Petra E., 2003. "Fifty Years of Mincer Earnings Regressions," IZA Discussion Papers 775, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Jacob, Brian A., 2002. "Where the boys aren't: non-cognitive skills, returns to school and the gender gap in higher education," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 21(6), pages 589-598, December.
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  6. Carlos Garriga & Mark P. Keightley, 2007. "A general equilibrium theory of college with education subsidies, in-school labor supply, and borrowing constraints," Working Papers 2007-051, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  7. Jonathan Heathcote & Kjetil Storesletten & Giovanni L. Violante, 2008. "The Macroeconomic Implications of Rising Wage Inequality in the United States," NBER Working Papers 14052, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Diego Restuccia & Guillaume Vandenbroucke, 2013. "The Evolution Of Education: A Macroeconomic Analysis," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 54, pages 915-936, 08.
  9. 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.
  10. Katz, L.F. & Murphy, K.M., 1991. "Changes in Relative Wages, 1963-1987: Supply and Demand Factors," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1580, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  11. Gary S. Becker & William H. J. Hubbard & Kevin M. Murphy, 2010. "The Market for College Graduates and the Worldwide Boom in Higher Education of Women," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(2), pages 229-33, May.
  12. John Bound & Sarah Turner, 2002. "Going to War and Going to College: Did World War II and the G.I. Bill Increase Educational Attainment for Returning Veterans?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 20(4), pages 784-815, October.
  13. Averett, Susan L. & Burton, Mark L., 1996. "College attendance and the college wage premium: Differences by gender," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 37-49, February.
  14. Thomas Lemieux & David Card, 2001. "Going to College to Avoid the Draft: The Unintended Legacy of the Vietnam War," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 97-102, May.
  15. Raquel Fernández & Alessandra Fogli & Claudia Olivetti, 2004. "Mothers and Sons: Preference Formation and Female Labor Force Dynamics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(4), pages 1249-1299, November.
  16. Zvi Eckstein & Éva Nagypál, 2004. "The evolution of U.S. earnings inequality: 1961?2002," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Dec, pages 10-29.
  17. He, Hui, 2012. "What drives the skill premium: Technological change or demographic variation?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 56(8), pages 1546-1572.
  18. Salvador Navarro, 2011. "Using Observed Choices to Infer Agent's Information: Reconsidering the Importance of Borrowing Constraints, Uncertainty and Preferences in College Attendance," University of Western Ontario, CIBC Centre for Human Capital and Productivity Working Papers 20118, University of Western Ontario, CIBC Centre for Human Capital and Productivity.
  19. 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.
  20. Claudia Olivetti, 2006. "Changes in Women's Hours of Market Work: The Role of Returns to Experience," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 9(4), pages 557-587, October.
  21. Imrohoroglu, Ayse & Imrohoroglu, Selahattin & Joines, Douglas H, 1995. "A Life Cycle Analysis of Social Security," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 6(1), pages 83-114, June.
  22. Hendricks, Lutz & Schoellman, Todd, 2009. "Student Abilities During the Expansion of U.S. Education, 1950-2000," MPRA Paper 12798, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  23. Virginia Sanchez Marcos, 2007. "What accounts for the increase in college attainment of women?," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 15(1), pages 41-44.
  24. Suqin Ge & Fang Yang, 2013. "Accounting For The Gender Gap In College Attainment," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 51(1), pages 478-499, 01.
  25. Kerwin Kofi Charles & Ming-Ching Luoh, 2002. "Gender Differences in Completed Schooling," NBER Working Papers 9028, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  26. Stephen V. Cameron & Christopher Taber, 2004. "Estimation of Educational Borrowing Constraints Using Returns to Schooling," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(1), pages 132-182, February.
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