Indicators of Welfare Dependence: Annual Report to Congress, 2000. Employment and Work-related Risk Factor 8. Educational Attainment

03/01/2000

Figure WORK 8. Percentage of Adults Age 25 and Over, by Level of Educational Attainment: 1960-98

Figure WORK 8. Percentage of Adults Age 25 and Over, by Level of Educational Attainment: 1960-98

Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census, Education and Social Stratification Branch, Historical Tables, “Table A-1. Years of School Completed by People 25 Years Old and Over, by Age and Sex: Selected Years 1940 to 1998,” Internet Release date: December 10, 1998.


  • Since 1960 there has been a marked decline in the percentage of the population who has not earned a high school diploma, from 59 percent in 1960 to 17 percent in 1998.
  • The percentage of the population receiving a high school education but with no subsequent college was 25 percent in 1960 and rose to 39 percent in 1988. Since then it has fallen to 34 percent, although some of this decline is a result of a change in the survey methodology in 1992 (see note to Table WORK 8).
  • Between 1960 and 1990, the percentage of the population with some college (one to three years), more than doubled, from 9 percent to 18 percent. The apparent jump in 1992 is a result of a change in the survey methodology (see note to Table WORK 8), but the trend continues upward, reaching 25 percent in 1998.
  • The percentage of the population completing four or more years of college more than tripled from 1960 to 1998, rising steadily from 8 percent to 24 percent.

Table WORK 8. Percentage of Adults Age 25 and Over, by Level of Educational Attainment: Selected Years

Year Not a High School Graduate Finished High School, No College One to Three Years Of College Four or More Years Of College
1940................................. 76 14 5 5
1950................................. 67 20 7 6
1960................................. 59 25 9 8
1965................................. 51 31 9 9
1970................................. 45 34 10 11
1975................................. 37 36 12 14
1980................................. 31 37 15 17
1981................................. 30 38 15 17
1982................................. 29 38 15 18
1983................................. 28 38 16 19
1984................................. 27 38 16 19
1985................................. 26 38 16 19
1986................................. 25 38 17 19
1987................................. 24 39 17 20
1988................................. 24 39 17 20
1989................................. 23 38 17 21
1990................................. 22 38 18 21
1991................................. 22 39 18 21
1992................................. 21 36 22 21
1993................................. 20 35 23 22
1994................................. 19 34 24 22
1995................................. 18 34 25 23
1996................................. 18 34 25 24
1997................................. 18 34 24 24
1998................................. 17 34 25 24

Note: Completing the GED is not considered completing high school within this table. Beginning with data for 1992, a new survey question results in different categories than for prior years. Data shown as Finished High School, No College was previously from the category “High School, 4 years” and is now from the category “High School Graduate.” Data shown as One to Three Years of College was previously from the category “College 1 to 3 years” and is now the sum of the categories: “Some College” and two separate “Associate Degree” categories. Data shown as Four or more Years of College was previously from the category “College 4 years or more,” and is now the sum of the categories: “Bachelor's Degree,” “Master's Degree,” “Doctorate Degree,” and “Professional Degree.”

Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census, Education and Social Stratification Branch, Historical Tables, “Table A-1. Years of School Completed by People 25 Years Old and Over, by Age and Sex: Selected Years 1940 to 1998,” Internet Release date: December 10, 1998.

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