Gender Differences in Completed Schooling

Kerwin Kofi Charles, Ming-Ching Luoh

NBER Working Paper No. 9028
Issued in June 2002
NBER Program(s):   LS

This paper summarizes the dramatic changes in relative male-females educational attainment over the past three decades. Stock measures of education among the entire adult population show rising attainment levels for both men and women, with men enjoying an advantage in schooling levels throughout this interval. Cohort specific analysis reveals that these stock measures mask two interesting patterns: (a) gender difference at the cohort level had vanished by the early 1950 birth cohort and reversed sign ever since; (b) for several cohorts, attainment rates were flat for women and flat and falling for men. This last is puzzling in the face of the large college premia that these cohorts observed when making their schooling choices. We present a simple human capital model showing how the anticipated dispersion of future wages should affect educational investment and find that a model which includes measures of future earnings dispersion fits the data for relative schooling patterns quite well.

download in pdf format
   (341 K)

email paper

This paper is available as PDF (341 K) or via email.

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w9028

Published: Charles, Kerwin Kofi and Ming-Ching Luoh. "Gender Differences In Completed Schooling," Review of Economics and Statistics, 2003, v85(3,Aug), 559-577. citation courtesy of

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded these:
Jacob w8964 Where the boys aren't: Non-cognitive skills, returns to school and the gender gap in higher education
Goldin, Katz, and Kuziemko w12139 The Homecoming of American College Women: The Reversal of the College Gender Gap
Altonji w3714 The Demand for and Return to Education When Education Outcomes are Uncertain
Bailey and Dynarski w17633 Gains and Gaps: Changing Inequality in U.S. College Entry and Completion
Goldin w11953 The Quiet Revolution that Transformed Women's Employment, Education, and Family
NBER Videos

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email:

Contact Us