The U.S. is Producing More College Grads; Latinos Still Lag Behind


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In 2009 address to Congress, President Barack Obama predicted that by 2020, the U.S. would “once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.” In March of 2009, 41% of all adults in the country aged 25-34 had achieved a college degree.

By March of 2016, 48% had achieved degrees, according to Pew Research. To achieve the original goal, 60% of all adults in the U.S. age 25-34 would need to have completed an associate’s degree by 2020.

As of 2015, the United States ranked 10th among the 35 countries ranked by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD); this ranking was up from 15th in 2009. The U.S. still trailed nations such as Japan and Canada by as much as 10 percentage points.

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The findings by Pew Research determined that both men and women and all major racial and ethnic groups increased their numbers in terms of college graduates. However, these gains varied by groups. More Latinos are graduating from college than ever before, but they still lag behind others in obtaining four-year degrees.

Women overall continue to outpace men in educational attainment. Over half of all women (52%) aged 25-34 have finished college compared to 43% of all males.

Research done in 2014 found that just 15% of Latinos (age 25-29) had a bachelor’s degree or higher. In compared to 41% of whites, 22% of African Americans, and 63% of Asians, the research shows how far Latinos lag behind. There are also large gaps between U.S.-born and foreign-born Latinos in terms of college education.

Latinos born in the U.S. are twice as likely as those born outside the country to have completed at least an associate’s degree (34%-17%). Latinos born outside of the U.S. often have arrived from countries with lower average education levels.

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