"The Homecoming of American College Women: The Reversal of the College Gender Gap"
Journal of Economic Perspectives,
Volume: 20 | Issue: 4 | Pages: 133-156
Publication type: Journal article
This article explores the catch-up and reversal in the gender gap in college attendance and graduation. We use three longitudinal data sets of high school graduates in 1957, 1972, and 1992 to understand the sources of the narrowing of the gender gap in college and its reversal. We find that high school girls improved relative to boys in college preparation as measured by achievement test scores and by math and science course taking. The changes in these proximate determinants of college investments appear to be driven by increases in girls' expected economic returns to college, which in turn arose from improvements in perceived labor market opportunities and an increase in the age of first marriage. We also find that long-standing behavioral and developmental differences between boys and girls appear to have contributed to the new college gender gap favoring females.
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