Monday, January 16, 2006

Male Shares of Undergraduates by Family Income

The scarcity of males in higher education has strong class-based roots: males are under-represented compared to females by the largest margin at the lowest family income levels. As income rises the gap narrows. In this analysis we used data from five National Postsecondary Student Aid Studies (NPSAS) to examine the male shares of various undergraduate enrollments. The NPSAS studies used were for 1990, 1993, 1996, 2000 and 2004. Remember that males are about 51% of the college-age population.

Among dependent undergraduates (students less than age 24) males were 47.0% of all undergraduate students in 2004. They were 48.3% in 1990, 48.6% in 1993, 47.4% in 1996 and 46.7% in 2000. By quartiles of parental income the male shares in 2004 were: 44.0% in the bottom quartile ($0 to $34,288), 45.3% in the second quartile ($34,289 to $62,240), 47.6% in the third quartile ($62,241 to $95,006), and 51.7% in the top quartile ($95,007 and over). Between 1990 and 2004 the male share of undergraduate enrollment declined by 1.5% in the bottom parental income quartile, by 2.3% in the second quartile, by 2.2% in the third quartile and by 0.8 percent in the top quartile.

Among independent undergraduates (age 24 and over) males were 37.8 percent of undergraduates in 2004. They were 41.2% in 1990, 40.7% in 1993, 39.1% in 1996, and 40.8% in 2000. By quartiles of student/spouse' income in 2004 males were 39.5% in the bottom quartile ($0 to $6823), 37.3% in the second quartile ($6824 to $16,776), 35.5% in the third quartile ($16,777 to $34,048) and 39.0% of the top quartile ($34,049 and up). Between 1990 and 2004 the male share declined by 0.8% in the bottom quartile, 5.4% in the second quartile, 8.2% in the third quartile and 0.7% in the top quartile.

The only good news in these data is that the male share of black dependent undergraduate enrollments rose by 4.5% between 1990 and 2004. This was the only racial/ethnic group that experienced an increase and this increase occurred in all four quartiles of parental income. If blacks are the canaries in the coal mine on this issue then the turn around for dependent black males is a good omen since they led the original decline in male shares of undergraduate enrollments.


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