U.S. Rural-Urban Inequality in Educational Attainment by Race/Ethnicity and Gender

April Sutton , University of California, San Diego
Bolun Zhang, University of California, San Diego

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.

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 Presented in Session 8. Economy, Labor Force, Education, & Inequality