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Gender Differences in the Returns to Education over Time for Married Couples

  • Nikki Brendemuehl and Nicholas A. Jolly EMAIL logo


Using US Census data from 1960 to 2000 and American Community Survey data from 2010, this paper analyzes gender differences in the return to education for married couples. Results from this analysis show that the return to schooling has increased over time for both genders; however, the relative return to schooling for females has fallen since the 1990s. In 2010, married women who are under age 35 and are in the top 20 percent of the income distribution had lower returns to schooling compared to men. These results are consistent with several demographic shifts that occurred during the last half of the 20th century.

JEL Codes: J12; J24; J31

Corresponding author: Nicholas A. Jolly, Department of Economics, Marquette University, PO Box 1881, Milwaukee, WI 53201-1881, USA, E-mail:


We thank the editor and an anonymous reviewer for helpful comments and suggestions.


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Received: 2020-12-23
Accepted: 2021-08-08
Published Online: 2021-08-24

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