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Explaining the Worldwide Boom in Higher Education of Women

  • Education


The last 40 years have witnessed a remarkable boom in higher education, particularly of women. Today in most higher-income countries and many lower-income countries, more women than men complete tertiary education. We present a model of the market for college graduates in which supply is a function of the distribution of the costs and benefits of college across individuals. We find little evidence that benefits are higher for women. It appears that differences in the total costs of college for women and men—primarily differences in the distributions of noncognitive skills—explain the overtaking of men by women in higher education.

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