Sweden fact of the day

In 2013, six million students across OECD countries graduated from a higher education institution with a bachelor’s degree; 58% of them were women. This percentage ranges from 69% in Sweden [emphasis added] to 45% in Japan. Besides Japan, only Germany, Korea, Switzerland and Turkey still have more male than female graduates.

That is from the OECD, via NinjaEconomics.


"Besides Japan, only Germany, Korea, Switzerland and Turkey still have more male than female graduates."

Well I guess we'll see prior_test on here in a bit claiming this as proof that America sucks and Germany is great.

(That hand typing leads to the occasional mistake - on to the no longer duplicate comment.)

Why? Germany is an extremely sexist place, and I'm sure that that fact has been noted by me before. Sexism is rampant here to the extent that even German sexists tend to be embarassed at just how backwards they look at this point.

For example, easily a decade ago, nobody in the German HP branch could be found who was a woman representing upper management at a HP international senior executive meeting. As a German noted in the article, even Turkey was able to do better than that. I would be surprised if anything has changed at HP, unless it was due to explicit pressure from American management. Though oddly, many commenters would likely find German management bowing to such external pressure just another sign of leftist political correctness run amok.

As noted to Cliff, many commenters here seem quite binary in their thinking. Germany has a number of flaws - like a new right wing party campaigning right now using the slogan 'We don't just hang signs' (a charitable translation - 'We don't only hang signs' is essentially as accurate, with a bit more menace added, depending on your perspective). This is pretty much the same as the KKK campaigning for public office with the slogan 'We don't just burn crosses.'

On the other hand, in the technical English course I'm teaching at a local university, there are the same number of women mechanical engineers in the class as men - one of the quite accurate observations concerning Germany is that it is a couple of decades behind the U.S. when it comes to social change. The class itself (20 students) is actually evenly split - if one student does not graduate with a degree, then the majority of graduating students will either be male or female.

However, when it comes to getting jobs, it is no secret who will be offered the best positions at Bosch, Daimler, Siemens, Luk, BMW, ABB, John Deere, or any number of less famous companies. Regardless of final grades, obviously - which are forwarded to employers, by the way, and are clearly irrelevant when it comes to choosing between men and women. Even more notable - it is essentially impossible to find a single woman in any position at the top of a German company or on its board/management.

The numbers for German graduates probably presents a much rosier picture than German employment reality, in other words.

Germany is quite a sexist hellhole, and that is absolutely no joke.

And one can already hear the cheering for German sexism commence from so many of this web site's loyal readers.

"...many commenters here seem quite binary in their thinking. "

Yes, some certainly are.

Well, they either are or they aren't.

Bait a physical scientist with binary statements at your own peril, apparently.

Don't you have to look at them first to see?

Wonderfully astute.

So where did that comment claiming America sucks and Germany is great go to then?

Well kudos to you prior_test, that's one of the few good posts I've ever seen you write. When you step outside the boundaries of your hobby horse obsessions, you show a keen intellect and make good points.

For data, there is the World Economic Forum gender gap index:


Indeed, Germany ranks a poor 86th in the Economic Participation and Opportunity rank (compared to 1 for the US), although Germany's Political Empowerment rank is 15 (compared to 60 for the US).

Speaking of gender gaps, if 58% of bachelor's degrees in OECD countries are awarded to women, then does that mean that men earn only 42/58 = 0.72 degrees for every degree that women earn? Maybe, we need a Degree Fairness Act to achieve equal degrees for equal work.

"Germany is an extremely sexist place"

Perhaps, but not according to these statistics -- Germany is very close to the 50/50 split that one would expect in an ideally non-sexist society, no? It certainly seems to me that those countries with 60/40 imbalances (or worse) are pretty obviously the sexist ones. Or am I missing something?

The rules say it is not possible to be sexist against a man.

Since, like it or not, men are more common at the top and bottom of the school ability distribution it may only mean that fewer get degrees.

"Germany is quite a sexist hellhole, and that is absolutely no joke"

So how will importing hundreds of thousands of young men from even more sexist countries going to help that? Or is German womens' future Cologne on New Year's Eve forever?

Is there any accepted theory as to why more women than men get bachelors degrees in the US? Not at all interested in people's off-the-cuff musings.

See this paper:


"It also could be that the rise in divorce rates since the 1960s and women's greater responsibility for children have prompted women to see an investment in college as an insurance policy for their future financial lives.

Another aspect in the reversal of the college gender gap, rather than just its elimination, is the persistence of behavioral and developmental differences between males and females. Boys often mature more slowly than girls. In grades K-12, boys tend to have a higher incidence of behavioral problems (or lower level of non-cognitive skills) than girls. Girls spend more time doing homework than boys. These behavioral factors, after adjusting for family background, test scores, and high school achievement, can explain virtually the entire female advantage in getting into college for the high school graduating class of 1992, the authors figure. It allowed "girls to leapfrog over boys in the race to college." Similarly, teenage boys, both in the early 1980s and late 1990s, had a higher (self-reported) incidence of arrests and school suspensions than teenage girls."

"Not at all interested in people’s off-the-cuff musings."

I suggest you get off the internet.

That does seem an odd comment to post on a blog forum.

... we could introduce Kevin to Google

The education "Gender Gap" generally and the "Feminization of Higher Education" are well worn subjects-- googling'em will amuse one for a long time.

Bottom line is that the modern cultural education system & environment are uncomfortable and often hostile to males-- while the opposite for females.

I can offer a suggestion.

If I read the descriptive statistics correctly, the propensity of men and women in the United States to matriculate at 4-year colleges was in 1978 about the same. It has in the U.S. remained the same - the intake pipe takes about the same share of each age cohort. It has increased for women. Now, the intake pipe collars in the first instance about 30% of each cohort (with some entering via community colleges). So, you have to ask yourself what's up at the 67th percentile of the labor market. Suggest that Barbara Ehrenreich may - quite unintentionally and with a dyspeptic gloss - be right, which is to say that sorting and signaling at the 67th percentil of the women's labor market may be crucially dependent on the BA as a credential while sorting and signaling in the men's labor market around that stratum can rely on community college or apprenticeship programs.

I should note that even adding a mulligan in the form of the number of women with pre-school children, the majority of the labor force remains male. That holds true for every age stratum bar workers under 20, wherein girls have a wafer-thin advantage. Also, the bulk of managerial jobs (about 2/3) are held by men even though most of the workforce had completed their schooling 20 years ago. The bulk of those earning degrees in demanding occupations like engineering are male. Kay Hymowitz girls-rule while boys are in their mother's basement playing videogames thesis is errant nonsense. (Likely because Hymowitz thought she could understand social relations by reading laddie magazines and listening to the single women in her office bitch and moan in the break room).

Correction: "It has in the U.S. remained the same" for men. (While increasing for women).

Women are still looking to marry. Finding the right boy has got much harder since people stopped going to Church. Getting into a good school to do a pointless subject that is not overly taxing - like Arts - is a good way to meet and marry someone who makes real money.

The number of female students has gone up but actually the real story is the number of female students doing useless courses (either because the courses are inherently useless like psychology or they have become useless either in response to the numbers of female students or to attract them like the languages and History) has gone up. There is no rational reason why someone would want to do a degree in Art History.

Weekly church attendance has over a 50-odd year period declined from about 1/2 the population to about 30%. And, of course, young men and young women meet each other in high school and at work.

Psychology is a perfectly respectable academic subject and can be taught as a vocational discipline as well as an academic one.

About 60% of those seeking baccalaureate degrees are following vocational programs, not academic ones. If they're degree is 'useless' its because that market is saturated. (It may be useless in another sense in that its a pointless paper hoop without much content - see programs in teacher training, social work, and library administration).

Weekly Church attendance is declining and skewing old. People don't meet at Church any more. They meet on Tinder. The point about college as a better place to meet boys than church or high school, is in your home town, you won't meet the Crown Prince of Norway, or the son of the man who owns FIAT and has just the cutest accent. You will be stuck in your home town forever. College is the one big chance most women get for massive social upward mobility.

I am not sure psychology was ever a rigorous discipline. For a while it tried. Most courses still have some sort of statistics requirement. But then again, not much of a requirement.

The market for most vocational degrees is unlikely to be a problem. Except, as you say, for those useless tick box degrees. But it seems reasonable to suggest that if someone studies, say, Russian they should come out of their degree program with a fairly good grasp of Russian. Or even French. This is not reliably the case any more. I am willing to bet that a reasonable number of student get four year degrees without knowing what a verb is. Being able to spell their first language of English would be asking too much.

Weekly Church attendance is declining and skewing old. People don’t meet at Church any more.

Actually, Church's have a large population of people with children. They weren't great meeting places a generation ago, so I don't think that explains much about educational phenomenal which have emerged since the 1970s.

you won’t meet the Crown Prince of Norway, or the son of the man who owns FIAT and has just the cutest accent. You will be stuck in your home town forever. College is the one big chance most women get for massive social upward mobility.

What we're discussing is the change in women's behavior v. men's behavior and you're bringing up something that's a constant between two time periods. If anything, women are less eager to marry than they were in 1978. They certainly do so at a later age.

You're also not going to meet the crown prince of Norway at the sort of colleges the vast majority of people attend. Over 70% attend state schools and over 70% attend colleges (private or public) which are in-state. North of 40% attend teaching institutions rather than research institutions. Private universities account for ~ 7% of the census; private colleges which have some degree of cachet ~3%. Maybe 4-5% attend 'public ivies' like Berkeley or Ann Arbor or College Park. The modal experience of those matriculating would be like my accountant cousin 20 years ago: girl from Canton enrolls at Ohio State.

I am not sure psychology was ever a rigorous discipline. For a while it tried. Most courses still have some sort of statistics requirement. But then again, not much of a requirement.

Quit talking out of your ass. A psychology course can be either vocational or academic. Regarding what's taught in academic psychology, it spans the natural sciences and the study of human behavior, incorporating neuroscience, physiology, animal behavior studies, tests and measurements of individual subjects, &c. The IQ tests you lot run on about are produced by...psychologists.

SMFS - I'm not sure how you reconcile in your head the assertion that people are meeting on tinder, not church, but then also assert that the main reason that women go to university is to find someone to marry.

Must be from the 1950s or something ... and here I'd been led to believe that most people go to uni to improve their prospects at getting a job, many of which (less than a few decades ago) still simply require ANY degree in addition to some real world experience along the way.

Tinder will only show you the people near by. If you want to meet someone nice, you have to be in a nice area. Why is that concept difficult?

If women were looking to improve their job prospects they would do a STEM subject. They don't. Numbers of STEM students have not increased that much. The great increase has been in useless subjects largely studied by women. That suggests they are not looking to improve their job prospects. Other countries openly admit that studying a Liberal Arts subject depresses average life time earnings. But women do it anyway. The world does not need that many Art Historians.

Liberal arts doesn't depress lifetime earnings, it just increases it less than other areas of study. It would be like claiming that engineering depresses lifetime earnings, having observed that Comp Sci majors earn more.

Regarding whether liberal arts increase earnings potential, the data shows that liberal arts degrees combined with attendance at a low-ranking college leads to negative return on investment.

For example, an Arts degree at the Eastern Michigan University has a -$120,000 ROI.

A liberal arts degree form a top school like Harvard probably has a positive ROI, if for any other reason than the signalling that you are smart enough to get into Harvard.


The world does not need that many Art Historians.

And the world does not produce many either. Regarding the arts-and-sciences faculty I know best, studio art and art history conjoined account for <4% of the diplomas awarded. And, again 60% of the students are not studying academic arts-and-sciences or fine and performing arts. All those girls are not there to study art history, which is a boutique major just about anywhere. If they're arts and sciences, they're in psychology, biology, sociology, or English lit. But they're usually not. They're in college to get a teaching certificate, a nursing license, study accounting, study speech pathology, study school psychology.

Applied psychology is a gold mine. Things like influence, persuasion and interpersonal communication can be very useful in the workplace.

Then there is the application of concepts like survivorship bias, hindsight bias and dozens of others that are useful for thinking about specific types of problems.

But I don't get the sense from talking to a few recent psych grads that they learn that stuff.

There is no rational reason why someone would want to do a degree in Art History.

An art history degree will be much more useless than an electrical engineering degree, but I don't think it will be completely useless. There are lots of jobs where they won't even consider you if you don't have a degree.

And as any student of economics knows, people aren't rational. Kids have been told all their lives to go to college, so they go to college. The kids who don't go to college, they are the losers. Even if the degree is "worthless," it's four years of your life spent having fun and not having a full time job. For the present time oriented, or those who can get parents or uncle Sam to pay for it, it's a good deal.

I`ve met a few art history people doing research while travelling, and they intend to be curators. The ability to link together diverse cultural themes across the ages, accounting for social, political and religious factors, can also prove very useful in effective marketing, interior design, architecture, as a complement to fine arts, and others.

What makes you think Art Historians can link diverse cultural themes across the ages accounting for social, political and religious factors? Or perhaps I can put it better by saying why do you trust the intellectual abilities of anyone who thinks they are going to become a curator given the enormous number of students doing Art History and the tiny number of available jobs?

Why not just admit that you don't know anything about art history. You wouldn't have asked the first question if you did.

I'm no expert, to be sure, but at least I've had some actual conversations with a few people in the field. And yes, one of the first questions is something to the effect of "Are you nuts? What kind of work do you think you'll find?" Surprisingly, they tend to have fairly concrete answers. No, they don't expect to get rich. Yes, they tend to come from privileged families where failure is not a poverty sentence. I've never met someone who studies in fine arts or art history who says anything remotely like "I dunno, I'm just gonna study what I want and hope for the best". They tend to have a very firm vision in mind, and have no delusions about the competitiveness of the fields and positions they have in mind.

the enormous number of students doing Art History

I have no clue where you got the idea that enormous numbers of people are following art history courses. The number is sufficiently small that federal statisticians subsume it in other categories. Visual and performing arts (and that will cover studio art, music, theatre and dance, &c) account for 5% of all baccalaureate degrees. Liberal arts NOS (i.e. humanistic courses other than areal studies, literature, philosophy, or religion) account for 2.5%. It's a bit higher for girls (5.5% and 3% respectively). Among young women, 17% are awarded business degrees, 8% teaching certificates; 13% degrees in nursing or medical arts;

Nathan W March 9, 2016 at 6:38 am

Why not just admit that you don’t know anything about art history. You wouldn’t have asked the first question if you did.

Does it ever occur to you that your allies may not mean what is written on the box? What do you think Art History graduates are going to say? What do you think they will be promised?

Let me put it another way, most educated people will have heard of or read Simon Schama. Who has produced perhaps the most interesting and original works on Art History in recent times. His Embarrassment of Riches is really very good. But he is not an Art Historian by training. Can you name an Art Historian who has written anything anyone here might have read? When other people from outside the field are producing your best work it is time to take stock.

33 Art Deco March 9, 2016 at 2:24 pm

I have no clue where you got the idea that enormous numbers of people are following art history courses.

I think I was told once that the US graduates as many Art Historians each year as there are jobs requiring an Art History degree.

Art historians are primarily occupied in non-book settings, with the main obvious exception of publishing photo books for general non-specialist consumption. I wouldn't evaluate the field based on the very small minority who leave the gallery to write books.

Also, I would be very very surprised if there was name recognition among more than 0.1% of the population for the guy you suggest "most educated people will have heard of".

Also, I think it is perfectly reasonable to take at face value, when someone says "I aspire to do X", that they most likely do, in fact, aspire to do X. Why would someone lie about that? It's not like it's an embarrassing or anti-social aspiration, like going to a film school because you want to direct porn movies or wanting to rule the world (Pinkie and the Brain style, perhaps).

"There is no rational reason why someone would want to do a degree in Art History"

Rationality is not limited to the maximization of personal financial wealth. People have diverse preferences. Getting a degree in art history is rational for a person who values studying art history more than they value financial income.

Especially if they are relying on meeting a rich donor to some Art Gallery and then retiring to the Hamptons to be a housewife.

I think what he's trying to tell you is that some art history major cut his balls off when he tried to get a date out of her.

Some wounds never heal.

I tried to write a song about it but Nashville just wasn't interested. Not enough about pick up trucks. Those people just have no heart.

So SMFS DOES have a good sense of humour after all :)

Comparative advantage in practice?

If women have significantly less physical force than men, and relatively similar intellectual abilities, makes sense that women will be specialized in intellectual jobs and men in physical jobs.

Oh, to be a hetero man, outnumbered two-to-one in a college of Swedish women! Imagine that dating scene!

Hard to argue with this, not that I want to.

Every degree comes with a free five year stay in the Ecuadoran Embassy!

Now THAT's funny! ;)

Appropriate on International Women's day . One parameter for a country to have made the leap to being a developed country is when 50% of the Graduates are women.
Another may be when a woman can become the leader of the country?
It is od that so many patriarchal societies have managed to have women leaders earlier( even though they may generally have been spouses/children of famous male leaders).

The lede is totally buried in the post. Saudi Arabia has a 60% graduation rate--and about a 55% rate in science and engineering!? That's nearly 15 percentage points higher than the next nearest country (Turkey)!? Call me crazy, but I think that having a relatively high rate across degrees is a lot more significant than loading up on non-descript bachelors. (Of course maybe all the humanities degrees in Sweden are in economics : )

For a Saudi woman, a degree in Islamic Philosophy or Islamic Law are almost useless. That orients their major choices.

What majors are these highly educated Swedish females pursuing? I'm guessing fewer STEM majors than in, say, China? Compared to the US?

I missed your remark. Please see my partial attempt at an answer below.

Good, more women are inundated with Marxist ideology and taught to group think because they have a natural propensity to take neat notes, be more organized, and aren't driven as crazy by sitting down for eight hours a day as an adolescent. Thanks for the completely useless post Tyler, I half expected a brilliant paper on NBER investigating the gender wage gap using the dialectic method, once and for all attributing the gap a worldwide conspiracy perpetuated by white males, to be posted underneath that pile. Actually, I'm leading a movement to equal the educational gap between men and women; why are more women going to college? Institutional sexism? Favoritism shown by the stupid c**ts who are scoring in 25th percentile in the SAT's and control your public schools?

Whoa Gabe, I think you need to lay off that double espresso at your afternoon coffee break. Seems to be affecting your naturally sweet disposition...

Women also are good at paragraphs.

And spelling.

If you don't want 25th percentile people "controlling" the schools, then perhaps we should pay them more?

You're a moron, charter school teachers have compensation that is commensurate with that of public school teachers, yet they routinely out teach their public school equivalents. Maybe if we want our teachers to perform better, we could fire them? And that Huffington Post article about the US paying it's teachers 22nd out of 27th in OECD countries is meaningless. The base salary, which the twats at the HuffPo look at, aren't what drives Americans like myself nuts. It's the fringe benefits (namely the DB plans and health care plans) that make employing a teacher so expensive. Kindly shove your head back up your ass and feel free to take a step outside the big D rank and file when you're ready to consider that our toxic culture of entitlement and showering teachers with the whole "You're doing Gods work" shtick is what has ruined public schools. They feel they are doing a service to the rest of us rather than viewing it as a job.

You gotta get your story straight. Are women all being brainwashed into Marxism or are they doing God's work?

And the point about DB plans and health care is nonsense. Other OECD countries have universal public health care and teachers also have DB plans.

The matter of charter school teachers doing better is also heavily debated, due to the likelihood that they are teaching a pool of students who self selected into a strategy aimed at higher performance. You may as well divide up students into the "do you really want to try hard" group and the "are you roughly indifferent to your education" group. It's not a very good basis for evaluating teaching quality, although some efforts at RCT trials have been made.

Finally, if there's a toxic culture here, um, well, just read what you wrote, and how you said it, and reflect on who's being toxic. People don't tend to take the complains of toxic people very seriously, and easily write them off as blowhards.

The enrollment differential for college men and women varies in the usual manner by race and income level, suggesting that socialization rather than biology the primary determinant of outcomes. Also, given how the genders apportion themselves into different majors, no analysis of graduation rates would be complete without considering graduation rates by major. If women in engineering and men in engineering both have similar dropout rates, then the overall difference is likely due to the difference in majors.

In the US, the percentage of women with bachelors degrees surpassed men with bachelors degrees over 20 years ago, and over 15 years ago with some graduate school, although the difference for both seemed to stabilize about 10 years ago. http://www.usnews.com/news/blogs/data-mine/2014/10/31/women-more-likely-to-graduate-college-but-still-earn-less-than-men The End of Men? I suspect not for men with large, uhm, hands.

This shouldn't surprise people. Women in western society have greatly increased the age of first child-bearing- this has freed more of them to go to college immediately after high school. Men have also been freed to do so, but in the past their age of first parenthood was already a bit higher, so the effect is less pronounced.

I think most of the change in child-bearing behavior occurred prior to 1978. What's under discussion is the gap in matriculations that has emerged since 1978.

No, most of the change happened after 1978. Here is the US: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db21_fig1.png

The West, at least some of it, is moving toward a "mono-gender", with females adopting masculine behaviors and males losing what little masculinity they've had for the last 50 years. Many men, or what passes for them now, find this to be a good thing. Others wonder why. That males should willingly give up their many millennia old superiority and prerogatives is mysterious and comparable to the US gleefully accepting Soviet Communism because it would make the commissars happy. If one can be a traitor to one's country why isn't it possible to be a traitor to one's sex? Hubby's that share the housework with the wife are the Benedict Arnolds of the battle of the sexes.

"That males should willingly give up their many millennia old superiority and prerogatives is mysterious"

Perhaps I am feeding a troll, but I'll bite. Men's retention of what you call their "superiority and prerogatives" reduces the welfare of women, who constitute the majority of the world's population, and are decreasingly logical in a service- and knowledge-based economy. Giving up "superiority and prerogatives" is a Pareto-potential improvement, and in the long run, it might be an absolute Pareto improvement.

In the antedeluvian era of the fifties and early sixties it was a common American observation that the sexually integrated Soviet economy required the children of the new man to be kept in day-care centers where they didn't receive the blessing of parental guidance. Of course this is no longer heard because American culture has embraced the Soviet paradigm whole-heartedly. In a misguided attempt to keep up with the Joneses, maximize income, fulfill potentialities and avoid the mundane life of the homemaker, Americans have followed the path Spengler described in "The Decline of the West". We won't see how that works out but it probably won't be good. http://nailheadtom.blogspot.com/2014/09/according-to-oswald-spengler.html

There's this saying about happy women and happy men. It can be overstated, but I think it generally applies. Also, unleashing the economic potential of women surely helps us to accumulate more gizmos and flashy stuff at lower prices.

You miss the economics, and on an economics blog, Chuck! With one parent earning and one parent keeping house, all that unpaid labor that mostly women did was untaxed! By incentivizing women to work, combined with the desire of females to only marry men who make more than them, this means both parents must work. Hence, kids must be watched by someone else, who is paid, and thus taxed! Send one additional person to work, triple the taxation!

In a sense, there can be a sort of statistical mirage. I'm inclined to think that public supports for child care can be economically beneficial, but am also inclined to perceive any claim of its benefits as an overstatement, since there is a lot of economic activity (child rearing) just moving from unaccounted activity to accounted for activity. However, for the benefits to erase themselves, say, through taxation, we would have to assume that people are much dumber than, I think, they actually are.

I'm not the biggest fan of this "masculinity" thing.

It seems more like a harsh male cultural adaptation to 1. Unless you grit down a terrible job and dangerous military work, you'll starve to death and unlike a young woman no rich person will pay for your company.

But that harsh masculinity of the great grandparents and above is not something I think we should strive to. Its probably a good thing we don't have to be as tough as we view our ancestors had to be.

The great difficulties of typical housework is less due to how much actual work it is (with things like vacuum cleaners, dishwashers, fridges, microwaves) and more just...couple politics.

Presumably the patriarchy is to blame for so many women getting higher education. Wait...

Is this a micro-aggression?

But we also hear, on this blog too, that there's a boom in high ed and decreasing returns. Perhaps then it is the men who have realized that university education is a bad investment at the margin? Maybe the women need to wise up too. Tuition costs and debt are only getting higher.

The figures for Sweden are quite misleading, even though "the war against boys" has been successful in driving males away from academia in Sweden as well.

Included in the pool of women for Sweden are heavily female professions such as nursing, that did not use to be considered academic studies. But with the collapse of education, that I describe in my book Education Unchained,
nursing had one year added, and now also requires high-school instead of "realskola" (the turbo-charged junior-high degree that applied until 1968) and got a an academic seal of approval. But I would venture that the standard is considerably lower today than it was both 20 and 47 years ago.

The teaching profession was until about 1990 reserved for top academic talent and it was fairly equally divided between men and women. Today those who become teachers are by far the worse of all that study at the university. And the profession is also heavily female. It is common that teachers who graduate today are worse academically speaking than those they are to teach at junior high.

Then there are areas such as "gender" "studies" that virtually only attract female students.

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