Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Women Reap More Benefits from Higher Education, Study Finds

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Women Reap More Benefits from Higher Education, Study Finds

Article excerpt


Higher education offers a variety of benefits, both economic and non-economic, and women seem to reap much bigger economic benefits from earning an associate's degree or a bachelor's degree than their male counterparts, according to a new study. The study's author said this revelation could shed some light on why the numbers of women in college are swelling--women, she said, perceive a larger payoff to pursuing postsecondary education than men do.

The study, "The Benefits of Higher Education: Sex, Racial/Ethnic and Socioeconomic Group Differences," was conducted by Dr. Laura Perna, associate professor of education policy and leadership at the University of Maryland. Perna drew on data from the U.S. Department of Education's National Educational Longitudinal Study that followed more than 9,000 students who graduated in 1992 and were interviewed from time to time until 2000.

By looking at gender, race and socioeconomic status, Perna said she wanted to focus on understanding the differences in college-enrollment rates across different groups and what the benefits of higher education mean to each group.

"(I wanted) to try and understand the extent to which the benefits of attending higher education vary across groups," Perna said. "A means of perhaps identifying a rationale for why some groups might be less likely to enroll in college than others."

While men receive the majority of first-professional degrees and doctorates, the study reports that women are now the recipients of the majority of associate's, bachelor's and master's degrees.

The study found that more women earned degrees than men: 41 percent of women had earned a bachelor's degree by 2000, compared to 33 percent of men; meanwhile, only 12 percent of women didn't pursue any type of postsecondary education, compared to 17 percent of men who didn't.

The study reported marked differences in income between women who earn an associate's degree or a bachelor's degree versus those who didn't.

"Although men who attain an associate's, bachelor's, or advanced degree average incomes that are comparable to incomes of men with no postsecondary education ... women who attain an associate's degree or a bachelor's degree average incomes that are 32, 45, and 81 percentage points higher, respectively, than women with no postsecondary education," the study says.

"It's that difference in the 'premium. …

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