IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/nbr/nberwo/17633.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Gains and Gaps: Changing Inequality in U.S. College Entry and Completion

Author

Listed:
  • Martha J. Bailey
  • Susan M. Dynarski

Abstract

We describe changes over time in inequality in postsecondary education using nearly seventy years of data from the U.S. Census and the 1979 and 1997 National Longitudinal Surveys of Youth. We find growing gaps between children from high- and low-income families in college entry, persistence, and graduation. Rates of college completion increased by only four percentage points for low-income cohorts born around 1980 relative to cohorts born in the early 1960s, but by 18 percentage points for corresponding cohorts who grew up in high-income families. Among men, inequality in educational attainment has increased slightly since the early 1980s. But among women, inequality in educational attainment has risen sharply, driven by increases in the education of the daughters of high-income parents. Sex differences in educational attainment, which were small or nonexistent thirty years ago, are now substantial, with women outpacing men in every demographic group. The female advantage in educational attainment is largest in the top quartile of the income distribution. These sex differences present a formidable challenge to standard explanations for rising inequality in educational attainment.

Suggested Citation

  • Martha J. Bailey & Susan M. Dynarski, 2011. "Gains and Gaps: Changing Inequality in U.S. College Entry and Completion," NBER Working Papers 17633, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17633
    Note: CH DAE ED LS
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w17633.pdf
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Sarah Turner, 2004. "Going to College and Finishing College.Explaining Different Educational Outcomes," NBER Chapters, in: College Choices: The Economics of Where to Go, When to Go, and How to Pay For It, pages 13-62, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Tara Watson & Sara McLanahan, 2011. "Marriage Meets the Joneses: Relative Income, Identity, and Marital Status," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 46(3), pages 482-517.
    3. Kerwin Kofi Charles & Ming-Ching Luoh, 2003. "Gender Differences in Completed Schooling," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 85(3), pages 559-577, August.
    4. Sara Mclanahan, 2004. "Diverging destinies: How children are faring under the second demographic transition," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 41(4), pages 607-627, November.
    5. Thomas S. Dee, 2005. "A Teacher Like Me: Does Race, Ethnicity, or Gender Matter?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 158-165, May.
    6. Caroline M. Hoxby, 2004. "College Choices: The Economics of Where to Go, When to Go, and How to Pay For It," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number hoxb04-1, September.
    7. Cascio, Elizabeth U., 2004. "Schooling and the AFQT: Evidence from School Entry Laws," Santa Cruz Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt8zm571cw, Department of Economics, UC Santa Cruz.
    8. Caroline Minter Hoxby, 2004. "Introduction to "College Choices: The Economics of Where to Go, When to Go, and How to Pay For It"," NBER Chapters, in: College Choices: The Economics of Where to Go, When to Go, and How to Pay For It, pages 1-12, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Judith Scott-Clayton, 2012. "What Explains Trends in Labor Supply Among U.S. Undergraduates, 1970-2009?," NBER Working Papers 17744, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Brian Holzman & Daniel Klasik & Rachel Baker, 2020. "Gaps in the College Application Gauntlet," Research in Higher Education, Springer;Association for Institutional Research, vol. 61(7), pages 795-822, November.
    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. Lusher, Lester & Campbell, Doug & Carrell, Scott, 2018. "TAs like me: Racial interactions between graduate teaching assistants and undergraduates," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 159(C), pages 203-224.
    5. Rodney J. Andrews & Jing Li & Michael F. Lovenheim, 2016. "Quantile Treatment Effects of College Quality on Earnings," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 51(1), pages 200-238.
    6. Ilaria De Angelis & Vincenzo Mariani & Roberto Torrini, 2017. "New Evidence on Interregional Mobility of Students in Tertiary Education: The Case of Italy," Politica economica, Società editrice il Mulino, issue 1, pages 73-96.
    7. Laura Tach & Kathryn Edin, 2013. "The Compositional and Institutional Sources of Union Dissolution for Married and Unmarried Parents in the United States," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 50(5), pages 1789-1818, October.
    8. Ionescu, Felicia & Simpson, Nicole, 2010. "Credit Scores and College Investment," Working Papers 2010-07, Department of Economics, Colgate University.
    9. Michael F. Lovenheim & C. Lockwood Reynolds, 2013. "The Effect of Housing Wealth on College Choice: Evidence from the Housing Boom," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 48(1), pages 1-35.
    10. Brian Holzman & Daniel Klasik & Rachel Baker, 0. "Gaps in the College Application Gauntlet," Research in Higher Education, Springer;Association for Institutional Research, vol. 0, pages 1-28.
    11. Martha J. Bailey & Melanie Guldi & Brad J. Hershbein, 2014. "Is There a Case for a "Second Demographic Transition"? Three Distinctive Features of the Post-1960 U.S. Fertility Decline," NBER Chapters, in: Human Capital in History: The American Record, pages 273-312, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Eric Bettinger, 2010. "To Be or Not to Be: Major Choices in Budding Scientists," NBER Chapters, in: American Universities in a Global Market, pages 69-98, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Aimee Chin & Chinhui Juhn, 2010. "Does Reducing College Costs Improve Educational Outcomes for Undocumented Immigrants? Evidence from State Laws Permitting Undocumented Immigrants to Pay In-state Tuition at State Colleges and Universi," NBER Working Papers 15932, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Matthew T. Johnson, 2013. "Borrowing Constraints, College Enrollment, and Delayed Entry," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 31(4), pages 669-725.
    15. Alm, James & Winters, John V., 2009. "Distance and intrastate college student migration," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 28(6), pages 728-738, December.
    16. Shomon Shamsuddin, 2016. "Berkeley or Bust? Estimating the Causal Effect of College Selectivity on Bachelor’s Degree Completion," Research in Higher Education, Springer;Association for Institutional Research, vol. 57(7), pages 795-822, November.
    17. Patrick Ishizuka, 2018. "The Economic Foundations of Cohabiting Couples’ Union Transitions," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 55(2), pages 535-557, April.
    18. Georgios Mavropoulos & Theodore Panagiotidis, 2020. "Why Young Adults Retreat from Marriage? An Easterlin Relative Income Approach," Discussion Paper Series 2020_01, Department of Economics, University of Macedonia, revised Jan 2020.
    19. Lucia Rizzica, 2013. "Home or away? Gender differences in the effects of an expansion of tertiary education supply," Questioni di Economia e Finanza (Occasional Papers) 181, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
    20. Ionescu Felicia A, 2008. "Consolidation of Student Loan Repayments and Default Incentives," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 8(1), pages 1-37, August.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I23 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Higher Education; Research Institutions
    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality
    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17633. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.html .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.