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The Gender Income Gap and the Role of Education

Donna Bobbitt-Zeher
Sociology of Education
Vol. 80, No. 1 (Jan., 2007), pp. 1-22
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20452692
Page Count: 22
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The Gender Income Gap and the Role of Education
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Abstract

Education is thought to be the pathway to success for disadvantaged groups. Given that young women now match or surpass men's educational achievements on many measures, how do they fare in terms of equal earnings? Would further educational changes matter for closing any existing gap? Analyzing data from the National Educational Longitudinal Survey, the author found that college-educated men in their mid-20s already earn, on average, about $7,000 more per year than do college-educated women. The findings suggest that this gap would still be substantial--about $4,400 per year--if women and men had similar educational credentials, scores on standardized tests, fields of study, and degrees from colleges of similar selectivity. Although women's gains in education may have been central to narrowing the gender gap in income historically, gender differences in fields of study continue to disadvantage women. Moreover, gender differences in work-related factors are more important than are educational differences for understanding contemporary income inequality among young workers.

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