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Trends in education wage gaps, key wage group wage gaps, and relative supply of education, 1979–2011

Average annual change
1979 1995 2007 2011 1979–1995 1995–2007 1995–2011
Education wage gaps*
College/high school 23.5% 42.5% 46.4% 46.9% 1.19 0.33 0.28
Advanced degree/high school 32.4 62.3 66.6 69.6 1.87 0.35 0.46
College or more/noncollege 28.9 46.1 49.2 50.9 1.08 0.26 0.30
High school/less than high school 21.0 27.4 26.0 27.6 0.40 -0.11 0.01
Wage group wage gaps**
50/10 (hourly) 57.8% 69.4% 66.3% 67.7% 0.72 -0.25 -0.10
95/50 (hourly) 86.9 101.8 110.2 113.0 0.93 0.70 0.70
Top 1.0/90th–95th (annual) 122.4 164.1 187.2 175.5 2.61 1.92 0.71
Relative supply (share of employment)
College only (1) 12.7% 17.3% 20.9% 21.9% 0.29 0.30 0.29
Advanced degree (2) 6.0 8.1 10.1 11.3 0.13 0.17 0.20
College or more (1 + 2) 18.6 25.4 31.0 33.2 0.42 0.46 0.49

* Log point gaps based on regression-adjusted models with human capital controls

** Change in unadjusted log point wage gaps

Source: Authors' analysis of Current Population Survey Outgoing Rotation Group microdata and Tables 4.4 and 4.8 in this chapter

Updated June 18, 2012

Documentation and methodology

The gross wage gap data are computed from underlying yearly data with selected years presented in Tables 4.4 and 4.8. The education wage gaps are computed from the same regressions for which results on college/high school and high school/less-than-high-school wage premiums are reported in Table 4.13, regressions of the log of hourly wages on education categorical variables (advanced degree, college only, some college, less than high school with high school omitted), experience as a quartic, marital status, race, and region (4). The college or more/noncollege differential is drawn from a similar regression except there is only one education dummy variable for those with a college degree or advanced degree. This estimate was also used in the analysis of trade’s impact on the college wage gap presented in Table 4.29.

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