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Census Bureau Reports Nearly 6 in 10 Advanced Degree Holders Age 25-29 Are Women

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The U.S. Census Bureau reported today more women than men are expected to occupy professions such as doctors, lawyers and college professors as they represent approximately 58 percent of young adults, age 25 to 29, who hold an advanced degree. In addition, among all adults 25 and older, more women than men had high school diplomas and bachelor’s degrees.

The tabulations, Educational Attainment in the United States: 2009, showed that among people in the 25-29 age group, 9 percent of women and 6 percent of men held either a master’s, professional (such as law or medical) or doctoral degree. This holds true for white, black and Hispanic women. Among Asian men and women of this age group, there was no statistical difference.

The data also demonstrate the extent to which having such a degree pays off: average earnings in 2008 totaled $83,144 for those with an advanced degree, compared with $58,613 for those with a bachelor’s degree only. People whose highest level of attainment was a high school diploma had average earnings of $31,283.

Also included are data on the highest level of education achieved by a wide range of demographic and socioeconomic characteristics, including age, sex, race, Hispanic origin, marital status, household relationship, citizenship, nativity and year of entry. Historical tables provide data on mean earnings by attainment level, sex, race and Hispanic origin with data back to 1975, and tables on attainment levels back to 1940.

Sonia Collazo, a Census Bureau demographer, notes, “The attainment tabulations are the most detailed education-level data available from the Census Bureau. The data allow analysts to precisely track the education levels of the population, from the least to the most educated. In all, 15 levels are shown for detailed age groups by race and Hispanic origin.” (See http://www.census.gov/population/www/socdemo/education/cps2009.html>, Detailed Table 1.)

Other highlights:

  • Overall, 87 percent of adults 25 and older had a high school diploma or more in 2009, with 30 percent holding at least a bachelor’s degree.
  • Among women 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or more, 65 percent were married with a spouse present. The corresponding rate for men was 71 percent. For women and men with advanced degrees, the corresponding percentages were 66 percent and 76 percent.
  • The number of U.S. residents with bachelor’s degrees or more climbed 34 percent between 1999 and 2009, from 43.8 million to 58.6 million.
  • More than half (53 percent) of Asians 25 and older had a bachelor’s degree or more, much higher than the rate for non-Hispanic whites (33 percent), blacks (19 percent) and Hispanics (13 percent).
  • Among young adults 25 to 29, 35 percent of women and 27 percent of men possessed a bachelor’s degree or more in 2009. This gap has grown considerably in the last decade: it was only 3 percentage points in 1999 (30 percent for women, 27 percent for men).

These data come from the Current Population Survey’s Annual Social and Economic supplement, which is conducted in February, March and April at about 100,000 addresses nationwide.


Percentage of Adults 25 and Older with Education
Beyond a Bachelor’s Degree


Both Sexes Men Women
1960 3.0 4.4 1,7
1970 4.3 6.3 2.4
1980 7.2 9.8 5.0
1990 8.8 10.9 6.9
2000 8.6 10.0 7.3
2009 10.6 11.1 10.1


Percentage of Young (Age 25-29) Advanced Degree
Holders by Gender


Total holders
(age 25-29)
Percent
Men
Percent
Women
1960 416,000 78% 22%
1970 783,000 73% 27%
1980 1,474,000 58% 42%
1990 1,384,000 53% 47%
2000 994,000 42% 58%
2009 1,579,000 42% 58%

Note: Data from 1960 to 1980 pertain to those with five or more years of college. Data for 2000 and 2009 pertain to those with a master’s, professional or doctoral degree.

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These data are from the Current Population Survey (CPS) from 2009. Statistics from surveys are subject to sampling and nonsampling error. For more information on the source of the data and accuracy of the estimates, including standard errors and confidence intervals, see Appendix G at http://www.census.gov/apsd/techdoc/cps/cpsmar09.pdf> [PDF].

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