The past few years have seen reinvigorated interest in the economic, health, and political behavioral outcomes of people living in “rural America.” Curiously, we know little about a primary driver of these disparities—educational attainment. We use the Education Longitudinal Study (ELS:2002) to examine rural-urban inequalities in educational attainment for girls and boys across racial/ethnic backgrounds. Preliminary results reveal a striking rural disadvantage in bachelor’s degree attainment among women, independent of family background and achievement. However, rural and urban males attain bachelor’s degrees at similar rates. Taken together, these gender-divergent patterns result in an absence of the “female advantage” in degree attainment among rural men and women, and a startling “female advantage” among urban young men and women. This research adds a geographic dimension to well-established literatures on gender and racial/ethnic gaps in education and illuminates rural-urban inequalities in educational attainment that were previously rendered empirically invisible.
Presented in Session 8. Economy, Labor Force, Education, & Inequality