More on graduation rates


In answer to requests from the previous post on graduation rates, here’s the same data broken down by race. African Americans still lag whites in graduation rates, but have made impressive gains in high school graduation rates, though graduation appears more likely to be delayed. African Americans are making impressive gains in grad school, but only quite recently. I may try to look at income later, but that’s trickier to handle. The societal decline in number of people completing grad school in any subject is declining regardless. I haven’t figured out how to separate non-Hispanic whites from Hispanic whites using the online GSS archive. Tips are welcomed.


  1. #1 razib
    October 6, 2010

    I haven’t figured out how to separate non-Hispanic whites from Hispanic whites using the online GSS archive. Tips are welcomed.

    the “hispanic” variable. 1 = not hispanic, 2-* would include all hispanics. so something like this:

    hispanic(1) race(1) would be non-hispanic whites

    to get all hispanics just limit to hispanic(2-*)

    unfortunately the variable only pops up in 2000. the sample sizes are not the best.

  2. #2 Jim Thomerson
    October 7, 2010

    Take a look at graduation rates by sex, particularly for African Americans.

  3. #3 Nick Matzke
    October 7, 2010

    I still don’t buy that there’s a drop in people going to grad school. It’s hard to reconcile with e.g. this:

  4. #4 Steve
    October 7, 2010

    Isn’t it ironic though that many of the most useful inventions, art, and other things we’ve benefited from came from the minds of people who in the earlier part of the last century hardly had any formal education?

  5. #5 Josh Rosenau
    October 7, 2010

    Nick, I agree 100% that we need to fix the pipeline. That there are too few jobs for PhDs could indicate that we have too many PhDs, or that the number of professorships has grown too slowly, and too many of the ones that exist are occupied by faculty who ought to be emeritus.

    Whether this means that there are too many PhDs can only be determined by asking what we expect PhD scientists to do, and whether those goals are being achieved. And that’s where the Rising Above the Gathering Storm reports come in. They show the US being rapidly overtaken by other nations, which are making a major investment in research, from new universities and new research institutions (and therefore new faculty positions), to increased spending on primary and secondary education, to reform of patent policy and other inducements for innovation. The US is falling behind on those long-term measures, and the broken pipeline for folks with science PhDs is only one symptom of that bigger problem.

  6. #6 Nick (Matzke)
    October 7, 2010

    Yes yes, more jobs for PhDs obviously, but I just think there is something wrong with the input data going into your plots.


    Enrollment trends at the graduate level. While an average 2% annual increase in total graduate enrollment occurred during the most recent decade, most recipients of bachelor’s degrees still decide not to continue further with their education. For example, as shown in Figure 2 only slightly more than one quarter of students receiving an undergraduate degree in 1992-1993 had earned a graduate degree, either master’s or doctorate, or a first professional degree 10 years later, despite the fact that graduate enrollments have risen by about 50% since the early 1980s (from 1.4 million to 2.3 million).* In addition, much of the growth in domestic graduate enrollment over the last 10 years can be attributed to trends that may not continue.

    Page 7 of: The Path Forward: The Future of Graduate Education in the United States. By FGE: The Commission on the Future of Graduate Education in the United States, April 2010. Online PDF here:

    …and presumably these people should know.

    Graduate enrollment increasing by 50% since the 1980s may or may not be good/good enough, but whatever it is, it’s not a decrease, and it’s not even a decrease relative to population growth (which has grown, but not by 50% since the 1980s!).

    However, it’s possible that my own graduate training as made me overly persnickety ;-)