The Emerging Education Reversal in the United States: National and State-Level Trends

22 Pages Posted: 4 Aug 2010  

M. D. R. Evans

University of Nevada, Reno - Departments of Resource Economics and Sociology

Nate Breznau

MZES

Date Written: August 2, 2010

Abstract

For over two hundred years, educational attainment in the United States has climbed, with the largest gains occurring recently from 1940 through 1980. Today the adult population is at or near its highest level ever with 88 to 89 percent high school graduates and close to 30 percent college graduates. But there are signs of change. Shortly after 2000, attainment amongst adults has flattened. A closer look at this educational ‘ceiling’ reveals that the educational gains of the population have not only stopped but are beginning to decline: Census and ACS data show that a reversal is underway. This reversal emerged for the newest members of the adult population around 2000. In addition, college completion rates, although not yet reversed, are slowing dramatically. Looking at the problem spatially, no state had an educational reversal in 1990, but, by 2000, in nearly every western state the percentage of high school graduates was lower among young adults (age 25 to 34) than among prime age adults (age 45 to 64). By 2007, the reversal was deepening in several western states, had spread east through Texas and the Great Lakes region, and also appeared along the south Atlantic seaboard and the East Coast.

Keywords: United States Education, Education Reversal, Educational Attainment

Suggested Citation

Evans, M. D. R. and Breznau, Nate, The Emerging Education Reversal in the United States: National and State-Level Trends (August 2, 2010). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1652520 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1652520

Mariah D.R. Evans

University of Nevada, Reno - Departments of Resource Economics and Sociology ( email )

Reno, NV 89557
United States

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