As a recent report finds, a woman has to have a Ph.D. to make as much as a man with a B.A. Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce issued the report, “The College Payoff: Education, Opportunity, Lifetime Earnings”; the following is from the introduction:
Women earn less at all degree levels, even when they work as much as men. On average, women who work full-time, full-year earn 25 percent less than men, even at similar education levels. At all levels of educational attainment, African Americans and Latinos earn less than Whites. For example, African Americans and Latinos with Master’s degrees have lifetime earnings lower than Whites with Bachelor’s degrees.
There’s a chart from the report that clearly illustrates the disparities in women’s vs men’s lifetime earning at Think Progress. The chart also reveals that a woman with a B.A. earns about the same as a man with an Associate’s degree and also the same as a man with some college education but no degree earned. A woman with a high school diploma and a man without one make about the same amount.
All told, over their lifetimes, women with the same educational achievements as men earn about a quarter less than their male counterparts. Recent figures from the US census found that women with full-time jobs make 78.2 percent of what men earn, so the report’s findings, while not encouraging, are not entirely surprising.
The study’s authors note that their figures are based on comparing full-time, full-year workers in a single year and that the disparities they note could be even greater. If researchers had defined lifetime earnings based on all workers, including workers who have left the labor force — as many women do to have children and to take care of them — there would be “even higher gaps between the earnings of men and women because women are much more likely than men to be out of the labor force for spells of time (and thus, not regularly work full-time, full-year).”
According to recent census figures, women are now earning more graduate degrees than men. Among adults 25 and older, 10.6 million women in the US have a master’s degree or higher, compared to 10.5 million men. In addition, 20.1 million women earn a bachelor’s degree in college, as compared to 18.7 million men. Among adults 25 and older, women are also more likely than men to have finished high school, 87.6 percent to 86.6 percent.
But as the Georgetown report indicates, having more education does not pan out to more economic clout for women over time. It also doesn’t for African Americans and Latinos:
Wage disparities also are visible when lifetime earnings are examined on the basis of race or ethnicity. Historically, non-Hispanic Whites (hereafter, Whites) have had higher earnings than those of other races/ethnicities. h ere is now an exception, though, because Asians — especially highly-educated Asians — earn wages comparable to Whites. Latinos, meanwhile, have median lifetime earnings 34 percent lower than Whites across the board. African Americans make 23 percent less than Whites. A similar gap (22%) exists for Other Races/Ethnicities (Native Americans, Paciﬁ c Islanders, and others).
The report also states that having a college degree does pay off. Even post-secondary education adds nearly a quarter of a million dollars to one’s lifetime earnings: College, and the investment made in it, is worth it but for many, it should be worth even more.
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