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Where the boys aren't: Non-cognitive skills, returns to school and the gender gap in higher education

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  • Brian A. Jacob

Abstract

Nearly 60 percent of college students today are women. Using longitudinal data on a nationally representative cohort of eighth grade students in 1988, I examine two potential explanations for the differential attendance rates of men and women -- returns to schooling and non-cognitive skills. The attendance gap is roughly five percentage points for all high school graduates. Conditional on attendance, however, there are few differences in type of college, enrollment status or selectivity of institution. The majority of the attendance gap can be explained by differences in the characteristics of men and women, despite some gender differences in the determinants of college attendance. I find that higher non-cognitive skills and college premiums among women account for nearly 90 percent of the gender gap in higher education. Interestingly, non-cognitive factors continue to influence college enrollment after controlling for high school achievement.

Suggested Citation

  • Brian A. Jacob, 2002. "Where the boys aren't: Non-cognitive skills, returns to school and the gender gap in higher education," NBER Working Papers 8964, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8964 Note: CH ED
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Kevin M. Murphy & Finis Welch, 1992. "The Structure of Wages," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(1), pages 285-326.
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    7. Murnane, Richard J & Willett, John B & Levy, Frank, 1995. "The Growing Importance of Cognitive Skills in Wage Determination," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 77(2), pages 251-266, May.
    8. Levy, Frank & Murnane, Richard J, 1992. "U.S. Earnings Levels and Earnings Inequality: A Review of Recent Trends and Proposed Explanations," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 30(3), pages 1333-1381, September.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination

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