Welfare Indicators and Risk Factors: Thirteenth Report to Congress. Employment and Work-related Risk Factor 4. Educational Attainment

03/01/2014

Figure WORK 4. Percentage of Adults Ages 25 and over by Level of Educational Attainment: 1960-2011

(In percent)

Figure WORK 4. Percentage of Adults Ages 25 and over by Level of Educational Attainment: 1960-2011

Note: Completing the GED is not considered completing high school for this table. Beginning with data for 1992, a new survey question results in different categories than for prior years. Data shown as “High school graduate, no college” were previously from the category “High school, 4 years” and are now from the category “High school graduate.” Data shown as “One to three years of college” were previously from the category “College 1 to 3 years” and are now the sum of the categories: “Some college” and two separate “Associate degree” categories. Data shown as “Four or more years of college” were previously from the category “College 4 years or more,” and are now the sum of the categories: “Bachelor's degree,” “Master's degree,” “Doctorate degree” and “Professional degree.”

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, “Educational Attainment in the United States, 2011,” Current Population Reports and earlier reports.


  • Figure WORK 4 shows educational attainment for adults 25 years and older between 1960 and 2011. Table WORK 4 shows the corresponding point estimates for select years.
  • The percentage of the population 25 years and older completing four or more years of college has increased greatly between 1960 and 2011 rising from 7.7 percent to 30.4 percent.
  • The percentage of the population 25 years and older with some college but less than four years increased from 8.8 percent in 1960 to 26.4 percent in 2011.
  • The percentage of the population 25 years and older without at least a high school education has declined over the past 50 years, from 59.0 percent in 1960 to 12.4 percent in 2011.
  • The percentage of the population 25 years and older receiving a high school education (but no post secondary education) was 24.6 percent in 1960 and rose to 38.9 percent in 1988. Since 1988, this figure has fallen to 30.7 percent in 2011. Altogether 43.1 percent of adults 25 years and older had educational attainment of no more than a high school education in 2011.

Table WORK 4. Percentage of Adults Ages 25 and over by Level of Educational Attainment: Selected Years

Year Not a High School Graduate High School Graduate, No College One to Three Years of College Four or More Years of College
1940 75.9 14.1 5.4 4.6
1950 66.7 20.1 7.1 6.0
1960 59.0 24.6 8.8 7.7
1965 51.0 30.7 8.9 9.4
1970 44.8 34.0 10.2 11.0
1975 37.5 36.2 12.4 13.9
1980 31.4 36.8 14.9 17.0
1981 30.3 37.6 15.1 17.1
1982 29.0 37.9 15.3 17.7
1983 27.9 37.7 15.6 18.8
1984 26.7 38.4 15.8 19.1
1985 26.1 38.2 16.3 19.4
1986 25.3 38.4 16.9 19.4
1987 24.4 38.7 17.1 19.9
1988 23.8 38.9 17.0 20.3
1989 23.1 38.5 17.3 21.1
1990 22.4 38.4 17.9 21.3
1991 21.6 38.6 18.4 21.4
1992 20.6 36.0 22.1 21.4
1993 19.8 35.4 23.0 21.9
1994 19.1 34.4 24.3 22.2
1995 18.3 33.9 24.8 23.0
1996 18.3 33.6 24.6 23.6
1997 17.9 33.8 24.5 23.9
1998 17.2 33.8 24.7 24.4
1999 16.6 33.3 24.8 25.2
2000 15.9 33.1 25.4 25.6
2001 15.9 32.3 25.7 26.2
2002 15.9 32.1 25.3 26.7
2003 15.4 32.0 25.3 27.2
2004 14.8 32.0 25.5 27.7
2005 14.8 32.2 25.4 27.7
2006 14.5 31.7 25.7 28.0
2007 14.3 31.6 25.3 28.7
2008 13.4 31.2 26.0 29.4
2009 13.3 31.1 26.1 29.5
2010 12.9 31.2 26.0 29.9
2011 12.4 30.7 26.4 30.4

Note: Completing the GED is not considered completing high school for this table. Beginning with data for 1992, a new survey question results in different categories than for prior years. Data shown as “High school graduate, no college” were previously from the category “High school, 4 years” and are now from the category “High school graduate.” Data shown as “One to three years of college” were previously from the category “College 1 to 3 years” and are now the sum of the categories: “Some college” and two separate “Associate degree” categories. Data shown as “Four or more years of college” were previously from the category “College 4 years or more,” and are now the sum of the categories: “Bachelor's degree,” “Master's degree,” “Doctorate degree” and “Professional degree.”

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, “Educational Attainment in the United States: 2011. http://www.census.gov/hhes/socdemo/education/data/cps/2010/tables.html and earlier reports.

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