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Among the employed population 25 and older, 37 percent of women had attained a bachelor's degree or more as of 2010, compared with 35 percent of men, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau. In contrast, among all adults 25 and older, 29.6 percent of women and 30.3 percent of men had at least a bachelor's degree.
The data come from tabulations on Educational Attainment in the United States: 2010 and not only examine gender differences in attainment but also provide the most detailed information on years of school completed ever presented by the Census Bureau, showing for each level of attainment exactly how many years of education adults have.
"The tabulations permit one to see not only the broad levels of educational attainment adults experienced, but also, for instance, if they did not receive a high school diploma, the specific level of schooling they did reach," said Sonia Collazo, a Census Bureau demographer.
In 2010, 36 percent of the nation's population 25 and older left school before obtaining a degree. This includes 15 percent of the population that didn't earn a regular high school diploma — a group sometimes labeled "dropouts." Among this group were about 1 percent of the population who reached the 12th grade, 2 percent who reached the 11th grade but still did not graduate, and 2 percent who earned a GED.
An even greater share of the 25-and-older population — 17 percent — attended some college but left before receiving a degree. At the graduate school level, 4 percent of the population left before obtaining an advanced degree.
The majority of adults (64 percent), however, finished their schooling with a regular high school diploma or college degree. The most common of these is a high school diploma, which was the highest level attained by 30 percent of those 25 and older. Another 9 percent left school with an associate's degree, and 15 percent finished with a bachelor's degree (not statistically different from those who did not earn a high school diploma). Eleven percent of the population attained an advanced degree in 2010.
Data also include levels of education cross-referenced 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 dating back to 1975 and tables on attainment levels dating back to 1940.
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.