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1 Where the Boys Aren’t: Recent Trends in U.S. College Enrollment Patterns Patricia M. Anderson Department of Economics Dartmouth College And NBER.

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Presentation on theme: "1 Where the Boys Aren’t: Recent Trends in U.S. College Enrollment Patterns Patricia M. Anderson Department of Economics Dartmouth College And NBER."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 Where the Boys Aren’t: Recent Trends in U.S. College Enrollment Patterns Patricia M. Anderson Department of Economics Dartmouth College And NBER

2 2 “Just the Facts, Ma’am”  In 1972, males made up 56 percent of overall college enrollments  In 2004, males made up 43 percent of overall college enrollments  Similar trends are seen in full-time enrollment and degree attainment

3 3 Official Statistics on Fraction of College Students Who Are Male Source: Digest of Educational Statistics, Table 185

4 4 The Sample Data  October supplement to the Current Population Survey (CPS) collects information on school enrollment  Survey covers the civilian, non- institutionalized population  I look at those age 17 to 50 who have not already graduated from college

5 5 “Just the Facts, Ma’am” Part 2  While noisier, sample statistics reflect the same basic trends: Fraction male 57 percent in 1972 Fraction male 44 percent in 2004  Decline in male enrollments not quite as sharp when focus only on “traditional students” Fraction male among full-time, 4-year- college students drops from 52 percent to 46 percent over this time period

6 6 Sample Statistics on Fraction of College Students Who Are Male Source: Author Calculations from October CPS for given years

7 7 Some Descriptive Analysis  In the early years, the older students are more likely to be male Likely lingering effects of the Vietnam War, as veterans benefit from the GI Bill  In the later years, the older students are more likely to be female Likely changing social climate, as previous investment decision no longer optimal  Result is a “catch-up” in educational attainment by earlier cohort females

8 8 Male/Female Ratio in Enrollment and Attainment by Birth Cohort Source: Author calculations from October CPS, individual years; March CPS MORG files, pooled

9 9 Probability of Enrollment  Sampled females increasingly more likely to be enrolled than sampled males Note males more likely out of sample due to higher incarceration and military rates  Decline in male/female ratio is less steep for younger individuals Recall patterns already seen for earlier cohorts  Conditional on high school graduation, the probability of enrollment was almost equal for younger males and females during the 1990s (later than other groups) Note males are more likely to drop out of high school

10 10 Male/Female Ratio on Probability of Being Enrolled in College Source: Author calculations from October CPS for given years

11 11 A Simple Model of Human Capital Investment  Invest in human capital as long as marginal cost is not greater than marginal benefit  For annual earnings, Y; annual costs, C; working life, T; and discount rate, r; attend if:

12 12 Implications of the Model – Less Likely to Invest:  The higher the costs of schooling  Decline in male eligibility for the GI Bill could decrease male enrollments  Higher psychic costs (males tend to get worse grades in high school) could decrease male enrollments  The higher the discount rate  If increased future earnings are heavily discounted, higher current earnings could decrease male enrollments

13 13 Implications of the Model – More Likely to Invest:  The longer one expects to work  Social changes that lead to women expecting longer, less interrupted careers would imply increased female college enrollments  The bigger the gap between college and high school earnings  If wages for college-educated women have increased faster than for men, or if wages for high school-educated men have increased faster than for women, then would expect increased female college enrollments

14 14 Determinants of Enrollment  Focus on 20-year olds, by cohort  A cohort is a group of 5 birth years  , , etc.  For each cohort, a separate linear probability model is estimated  In addition to basic demographics, the explanatory variables are motivated by the basic human capital investment model

15 15 Explanatory Variables  Demographics Marital status, race, veteran status, etc.  State-level tuition, unemployment rate  Economic returns 25 th percentile wages for college-educated workers age of your sex, race, state 75 th percentile wages of HS-educated workers age of your sex, race, state

16 16 Within Cohort Decompositions  Male-female difference in the probability of enrollment can be decomposed into 2 parts:  Unexplained (i.e. the coefficient on male)  Explained by differences in means:

17 17 Decomposition of Enrollment of 20- year-olds born from 1953 to 1957

18 18 Decomposition of Enrollment of 20- year-olds born from 1973 to 1977

19 19 Within Cohort Decomposition Highlights  Within cohort, the male dummy is never significantly different from zero  Higher marriage rates for females are important, especially for the early cohorts  Higher earnings for male high school graduates are important, especially for the later cohorts when it is not offset by the effect of higher earnings for male college graduates

20 20 Across Cohort Decompositions  The change in the male-female difference in the probability of enrollment can also be decomposed into the unexplained part and the part explained by the change in the differences in means:

21 21 Across-Cohort Decomposition

22 22 Across-Cohort Decomposition Highlights  INCREASES IN RELATIVE FEMALE ENROLLMENT (AS ACTUALLY OBSERVED) ARE IMPLIED BY Narrowing of the male-female marriage gap  Most important contributor to observed change Increase of the female advantage in HS graduation  Contributes slightly (effect ¼ size of marriage gap)  INCREASES IN RELATIVE MALE ENROLLMENT (OPPOSITE OF OBSERVED) ARE IMPLIED BY Narrowing of male-female HS graduate wage gap  Exactly offsets HS grad effect Decrease in male advantage in veteran status  Very small effect

23 23 Summary  The biggest drop in the male fraction of college students is likely due to one-time events - End of the Vietnam War  End of draft deferments reduces over- consumption of college by males  Fewer veterans using GI Bill tuition benefits Increased opportunities for women  Enrollment by earlier cohorts at older ages  Higher age at first marriage  Lower HS drop-out rates


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