ACCOUNTING FOR THE GENDER GAP IN COLLEGE ATTAINMENT

Authors

  • SUQIN GE,

    1. Ge: Assistant Professor, Department of Economics, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA 24061. Phone (540) 231-4378, Fax (540) 231-5097, E-mail ges@vt.edu
    Search for more papers by this author
  • FANG YANG

    1. Yang: Assistant Professor, Department of Economics, University at Albany, State University of New York, Albany, NY 12222. Phone (518) 591-8537, Fax (518) 442-4736, E-mail fyang@albany.edu
    Search for more papers by this author
    • We thank Michele Boldrin, Betty Daniel, Mariacristina De Nardi, Zvi Eckstein, Raquel Fernandez, John Jones, Michael Sattinger, the co-editor, and two anonymous referees, and seminar participants at Virginia Tech, 2008 AEA meetings, University of Virginia, SUNY-Albany, 2008 North American Summer Meeting of the Econometric Society, Xiamen University, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, the Philadelphia Fed, 2008 Annual Meeting of the Southern Economic Association, Université Laval, and 2009 Midwest Macro Meetings for helpful comments and suggestions. Suqin Ge acknowledges the AEA/CSWEP summer fellowship from W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research. Fang Yang acknowledges the support from Faculty Research Awards Program at University at Albany and Individual Development Awards Program at United University Professions. All remaining errors are our own.


Abstract

One striking phenomenon in the U.S. labor market is the reversal of the gender gap in college attainment. Females have outnumbered males in college attainment since 1987. We develop a discrete choice model of college entry decisions to study the driving forces of changes in college attainment by gender. We find that the increase in relative earnings between college-educated and high-school-educated individuals and the increasing parental education have important effects on the increase in college attainment for both genders, but cannot explain the reversal of the gender gap. Rising divorce probabilities increase returns to college for females and decrease those for males, and thus are crucial in explaining the reversal of the gender gap in college attainment. (JEL J24, J16, I20)

Ancillary