Explaining the Worldwide Boom in Higher Education of Women

39 Pages Posted: 23 Sep 2010

See all articles by Gary S. Becker

Gary S. Becker

University of Chicago - Department of Economics; University of Chicago - Booth School of Business

William H. J. Hubbard

University of Chicago Law School

Kevin M. Murphy

University of Chicago; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: September 2010

Abstract

The last forty years have witnessed a remarkable boom in higher education around the world. Importantly, the boom in higher education has been concentrated among women, such that today in most higher-income countries, and many lower-income countries, more women than men attend and complete tertiary education. We present a model that explains the increase in higher education, particularly among women, in terms of a market for college graduates in which the supply of college graduates is function of the distribution of the costs and benefits of higher education across individuals. Examining evidence on these costs and benefits, we find no clear evidence that benefits are greater for women than men. Instead, it appears that differences in the total costs of college for women and men - primarily due to differences in the distributions of non-cognitive skills for women and men - explain the overtaking of men by women in higher education.

Keywords: Higher Education, College, Returns to Education, Gender

JEL Classification: J16, J24, I21

Suggested Citation

Becker, Gary S. and Hubbard, William H. J. and Murphy, Kevin M., Explaining the Worldwide Boom in Higher Education of Women (September 2010). MFI Working Paper No. 2010-09. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1681606 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1681606

Gary S. Becker (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Department of Economics ( email )

1126 East 59th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business

5807 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

William H. J. Hubbard

University of Chicago Law School ( email )

1111 E. 60th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
773-834-8999 (Phone)

Kevin M. Murphy

University of Chicago ( email )

5807 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
773-702-7280 (Phone)
773-702-2699 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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