From 2002 to 2012, the highest rate of increases in education attainment levels were doctorate and master's degrees, according to new statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau. The population with a doctorate grew by about 1 million, or 45 percent, while those who held a master's climbed by 5 million, or 43 percent.
Meanwhile, the population with an associate degree rose by 5 million, or 31 percent. Those whose highest degree was a bachelor's degree grew at a smaller rate: 25 percent to 41 million. Meanwhile, the number of those without a high school or GED diploma declined by 13 percent, falling to 25 million. The rates of increase for doctorate and master's holders were not significantly different from one another.
The statistics come from Educational Attainment in the United States: 2012, a series of national-level tables showing attainment levels by a wide range of demographic characteristics, including sex, race, Hispanic origin, marital status, household relationship, citizenship and nativity, labor force status, occupation and industry. Also included are detailed information on years of school completed, showing for each level of attainment exactly how many years of education adults have. A variety of historical time series tables going back to 1940 are also provided, as are graphs illustrating historical data.
Women outnumbered men in 2012 among people whose highest level of education was a bachelor's degree (21 million versus 19 million) or a master's degree (9 million compared with 7.4 million). Conversely, more men had doctorate (2 million versus 1.2 million) or professional degrees (1.8 million compared with 1.2 million). Between 2002 and 2012, however, the gap between the number of men and women with professional degrees shrank.
The tabulations also show that education continues to pay off. Among people 25 and older who had any earnings in 2011, average earnings were $59,415 for people with a bachelor's degree (but no graduate degree), compared with $32,493 for people with a high school diploma, but no college.
These statistics come from the Current Population Survey's Annual Social and Economic Supplement, which is conducted in February, March and April each year at about 100,000 addresses nationwide.
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