According to the Department of Education, more women than men have graduated from US colleges with bachelor’s degrees in every year since 1982, and the same is true for all college degrees (associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s and doctor’s degrees). For the class of 2012, women earned 61.7% of all associate’s degrees, 56.9% of all bachelor’s degrees, 59.6% of all master’s degrees, and 52.1% of all doctor’s degrees. Overall, there were 141 women graduating with a college degree at some level in 2012 for every 100 men.
We know there’s been a gender gap for every college class since 1982, but what about the cumulative gender gap in college degrees over the last 30 years? The chart above shows that since 1982, women have earned 4.1 million more bachelor’s degrees than men (21.4 million degrees for women vs. 17.3 million degrees for men). For all college degrees, women have earned 9.1 million more degrees than men (41.9 million vs. 32.8 million) since 1982.
A cumulative educational gap that large and imbalanced has to have some major implications for America, and one implication is being felt in the US housing market.
The chart above was inspired by this CNBC article by housing reporter Diana Olick, and the suggestion that important female demographics, including the enormous college degree gap, are driving the housing and apartment markets. Here’s an excerpt:
The housing market is supposedly roaring back. Home prices are seeing their biggest annual gains since 2006. Renters must be rushing back to buy, right? Not exactly.
In fact, even as housing and the greater economy improve, a shift in demographic trends will likely favor the rental apartment market for the foreseeable future. It is all about women.
“What drives demand for single family homes is, ‘Oh honey, I’m pregnant,” says Buck Horne, a housing analyst at Raymond James. But those words are being uttered less and less. Horne claims the shift in female education, marriage and fertility rates will drive rental apartment demand going forward. He points to a growing educational imbalance, that is, 3.1 million more women enrolled in college than men and 4 million more college-educated women in the workforce than men.
“That creates a structural imbalance in the number of suitable partners. Women leave college with good income prospects and are not finding suitable husbands and fathers,” says Horne.
Consequently, the millennial generation is delaying marriage and motherhood, and birth and fertility rates are dropping. This all points to more structural, long-term demand for rental housing.
MP: It’s interesting that the cumulative college degree gap is having an impact on the housing/rental markets, and that effect is showing up in the homeownership rate, which continues to decline. The Census Bureau reported today that the US homeownership rate in the fourth quarter of last year fell to 65.4%, down from 66% a year earlier, and down from the peak of 69.2% in 2004. The 65.4% homeownership rate in Q4 2012 was the lowest since Q1 of 1997, more than 15 years ago.
And finally, just as a thought experiment – imagine the general reaction if the educational degree imbalances of 4.1 million bachelor’s degrees and 9.1 million college degrees overall favored men, and not women? I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to say that a college degree imbalance that large in favor of men would be considered a “national crisis.” And with those enormous gender imbalances in higher education favoring women, do we really need more than 500 women’s centers on college campuses all over the country, women’s only study lounges, and female-only campus housing for STEM degrees? But that final point about female-only STEM dorms highlights the key issue: the concern about gender imbalances and gender equity is very, very selective, imbalanced and inequitable – there is only concern when women are under-represented and never any concern when the second sex is under-represented!