Advancing a Free Society

Will the Earnings of Women Overtake Those of Men?

Monday, October 25, 2010

During the past two decades the education of women has been booming in practically all countries. Larger fractions of young women than young men are enrolled in universities in countries as culturally and economically diverse as Brazil, China, and Iran. In the United States, about 57% of the current graduates of four year colleges are women, while women receive 60% of all the master’s degrees. Note the radical change since 1970 when women received only 40 % of the degrees from four-year colleges. A recent report shows that American women are now even getting more PHD degrees than men, although the proportion varies a lot by field. Women receive only about one fifth of all engineering doctorates, and one quarter of all doctorates in computer science and mathematics, but they are getting a majority of the doctorates even in health sciences and biology.

Since earnings are on average strongly related to education levels, a natural issue to consider is the current and future effects of these trends in college enrollment and graduation rates on the earnings of women compared to men. In particular, will the average earnings of women begin before long to exceed that of men after being so far behind in the past?

Continue reading Gary Becker at The Becker-Posner Blog