Exploring Society By The Numbers

Education and Earnings: Does Education Pay?

Jill Bouma, Berea College

Summary

Overall, we see that even when controlling for occupation, gender continues to affect earnings: women make less than men. In this exercises, students will examine the influence of education on earnings. Do higher levels of education lead to higher earnings? In other words, does education pay off? They will also look at whether race and sex still have an effect on earnings, once we control for education. Is the reason women and people of color make less money because they have less education? Students will review bivariate analysis (cross-tabs), learn the logic of control variables and propose and test hypotheses.

Learning Goals

Skill
  • Using software to access and analyze census data
  • Identifying independent and dependent variables
  • Employing control variables
  • Quantitative writing
  • Learning how to construct, read, and interpret bivariate tables displaying frequencies and percentages
  • Using real world data to enhance and support key course concepts
Substance
  • Examine the influence of education on earnings. Do higher levels of education lead to higher earnings? In other words, does education pay off?
  • Examine whether race and sex still have an effect on earnings, once we control for education. Is the reason women and people of color make less money because they have less education?

Context for Use

This activity is used in a Problems in American Institutions class for undergraduate students. This activity explores topics of education, gender and race in the United States.

Description and Teaching Materials

Exercises: PDF (Acrobat (PDF) 109kB Mar24 09)
Exercises: DOC (Microsoft Word 62kB Mar24 09)

Teaching Notes and Tips

This activity uses a customized data set made from the 2000 Census. It guides students through data manipulation using WebCHIP software found at DataCounts!. To open WebCHIP with the dataset for the activity, please see instructions and links in the exercise documents under teaching materials. For more information on how to use WebCHIP, see the How To section on DataCounts!

Assessment

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References and Resources

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