Document Type


Publication Date



Introduction: This study examines educational attainment rates among racial/ethnic groups in the US and New York City metro area between 1990 and 2010.

Methods: Data on Latinos and other racial/ethnic groups were obtained from the U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey, reorganized for public use by the Minnesota Population Center, University of Minnesota, IPUMSusa. Cases in the dataset were weighted and analyzed to produce population estimates.

Results: The data indicate that the percentage of the population with a B.A. or higher in the U.S. has steadily increased across all races and ethnicities for both sexes. This trend was apparent in the six major metropolitan areas over the last two decades. Over the same period of time, the percentage of the population without a high school diploma has decreased across all races, ethnicities, and genders nationwide, and also in the six major metropolitan areas. In short, less people in the U.S. are failing to complete high school and more are getting four year degrees. Perhaps the most notable findings are those concerning sex. Females demonstrated a significantly higher increase in educational attainment than males across all races and ethnicities over the last two decades. This trend was observed nationwide and in the six major metropolitan areas.3 In many instances, female educational attainment increased at more than twice the rate of their male counterparts.

Discussion: Regarding the drastic increase in educational attainment among females in relation to males, it’s worth noting that over the twenty year period examined in this report the number of women identifying themselves as household heads increased 47%.7 Household heads traditionally face more financial responsibilities than non-household heads, and the well-established correlation between educational attainment and higher levels of income may be a strong factor here.


For additional information about this collection see

Citation information: Cappello, L. (2015). Educational Attainment in the United States and Six Major Metropolitan Areas, 1990-2010: A Quantitative Study by Race, Ethnicity, and Sex. New York, NY: Center for Latin American, Caribbean, and Latino Studies at the CUNY Graduate Center.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.