Gender Parity in Schooling Around the World

by on July 15, 2010 at 7:31 am in Data Source, Economics, Education | Permalink

The world has reached gender parity in schooling and in a few years we will see a schooling ratio in favor of women.  Using UNESCO statistics (more detail here) on school life expectancy, the average country has a parity level of 1.01 in favor of women or, weighting by population, .991.  In other words, at current rates women can be expected to get the same number of years of education as men, as a world average.

Equal life expectancy of schooling on a world level does not mean that all is well – basically we have a relatively small number of countries in which women get much less education than men and a large number of countries in which women get somewhat more education than men.  On the vertical axis in the figure below (click to enlarge) is total life expectancy in school and on the horizontal axis the ratio of female to male life expectancy in school.  The figure tells us a number of interesting things.  First, the largest imbalances are against women and these tend to occur in countries with a low level of total education.  South Korea is an interesting outlier.

Second, in India parity is below 1 and in China it is above 1.  In India female school life expectancy increased by a huge 2.5 years between 2000 and 2007 and the parity ratio increased from .77 to .9 so we can expect the (weighted) world parity level to easily tip over 1 in the next few years (if it has not done so already). The graph suggests that a ratio around 1.09 is the "norm" towards which countries are trending with development.

Interestingly, some of the Muslim countries, such as Pakistan and Afghanistan (no data for 2007-2008 but in 2004 the parity ratio was less than 0.5), are below parity but Qatar and Iran have some of the highest ratios in the world, both above US levels.

Parity

1 josh July 15, 2010 at 10:08 am

What the hell is this education you are talking about? My wife can neither cook nor play the piano, but has a degree in “Industrial Labor Relations”. Progress!

2 josh July 15, 2010 at 10:45 am

I can cook.

3 Ronald Brak July 15, 2010 at 11:53 am

Do Australians really suffer about 21 years of education or does it only seem that long?

4 Chris T July 15, 2010 at 1:46 pm

Of course when men outnumber and outperform women in school it’s because of the oppression of the patriarchy, but when women outnumber and outperform men it’s because they’re naturally better at academics.

5 Millian July 15, 2010 at 2:57 pm

Steve Sailer: now sexist as well as racist. Of course more males are being educated in absolute terms, but most of the global increase is in countries where people’s skin colour doesn’t make the grade for Stevie.

6 BillWallace July 15, 2010 at 6:20 pm

@you
Among the many things educated males have contributed to humanity is sarcasm. Too bad they weren’t able to make it easy to detect on the internet or your reply to Steve would have been unnecessary.

Spending as much time educating women as men is one of the most important symptoms of the decline of our civilization.

7 jimbino July 15, 2010 at 8:39 pm

I wonder where we’d be if we’d forced Henry Ford, Edison, Wright Bros, Bill Gates and Michael Dell to finish their schooling. With all the schooling, where are the women who excel in physics, math, engineering, economics, chess, cabinetmaking, haute cuisine, haute couture and filmmaking?

And once they stop cooking, we men will have no excuse for not going back to our mothers’ hearths.

8 TGGP July 15, 2010 at 9:56 pm

Randy McDonald, the small caste of the Curie women were able to win as many Chemistry Nobels as all the women after them (and the most recent one shared it with two men). Sometimes it seems as though the small caste of the past made more rapid progress, perhaps a “low-hanging fruit” effect. Nowadays it’s molecule, molecule, molecule.

9 Meng Bomin July 17, 2010 at 5:40 pm

Interesting. As someone at the cusp of finishing my undergraduate degree, I am well aware of the use of further education to shield oneself from entering the job market and making career decisions. I have to wonder what the incentive structure looks like in terms of entering the labor market or prolonging schooling and how that relates to gender.

10 T Heller July 18, 2010 at 2:28 pm

@Randy “What are the reasons for men not completing as much education as women, I wonder?”

Why would you suspect those reasons would be any different than the reasons that men formerly completed more education than women: Resources and Culture.

Puzzle that one.

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