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Adult Enrollment and Educational Attainment

By Jerry A. Jacobs and Scott Stoner-eby


This paper examines the growth of adult enrollment in recent decades in the United States and its impact on the educational attainment of the population. First, in order to better understand the growth of adult enrollment, the change between 1970 and 1990 is decomposed into its demographic elements. Next, the projected growth of enrollments over the next decade are analyzed. Finally, the paper examines the cumulative impact of adult enrollment on educational levels, as well as on race and sex differentials in educational attainment. The study draws on data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data Systems, the U.S. decennial censuses, and the School Enrollment Supplements of the October 1970, 1980, and 1990 Current Population Surveys. The results highlight the role of the baby-boom generation in spurring the growth of adult enrollments. They also show that adult enrollments contribute significantly to the educational attainment of the U.S. population. Life-course transitions have become a focal point for demographic and other social science research. Many contemporary social concerns can be viewed as problems encountered en route to stable adulthood: out-of-wedlock pregnancy, dropping out of high school, unemploymen

Year: 2010
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