Inside Higher Ed
October 9, 2008
The latest generation of adults in the United States may be the first since World War II, and possibly before that, not to attain higher levels of education than the previous generations. While white and Asian American young people are outpacing previous generations, the gaps for other minority groups are large enough that the current generation is, on average, heading toward being less educated than its predecessor.
These data are among the most dramatic in “Minorities in Higher Education 2008,” which is being released today by the American Council on Education as the 23rd annual status report on the diversification of American colleges and universities.
Most of the data in the report are not themselves new, and come from the various reports issued over the year by the U.S. Education Department and other government and private sources. The educational attainment data, for example, are from census figures. But the report groups various statistics together in ways that are designed to promote a fuller understanding of the way demographics are changing — or not.
“We are at a tipping point in our nation’s history,” said Molly Corbett Broad, president of the ACE, in reference to these findings. She said that “the alarm bells should be going off” all over the country over this analysis, given the historic pattern of successive generations outperforming one another.
Educational Attainment: Percentage of Adults With Associate Degree or Higher, 2006
Ages 30 and Up
Broad noted that the data also point to a growing gender gap in educational attainment, which is consistent with all of the reports about gender gaps in enrollments. For black and Latino women, for example, the most recent generation outperformed the prior ones, but the opposite is true for men. And across racial and ethnic groups, women are achieving a higher level of education than men.
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