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Aging Today: Educational Attainment – Fact Sheet

compiled by Betty Cohen

April 2012—Today’s older adults have a higher level of educational attainment than previous generations, and many are still actively involved in advancing their education. Higher educational status provides older workers with greater employability and flexibility.

Facts include:

“In 1965, 24 percent of the older population had graduated from high school, and only 5 percent had at least a bachelor’s degree. By 2008, 77 percent were high school graduates or more, and 21 percent had a bachelor’s degree or more,” according to the Older Americans 2010 report.

According to a 2009 OECD report, in the United States, 1.4% of the population aged 40 and over were enrolled as full-time or part-time students in public and private institutions in 2007, compared to 6.8% of those aged 30-39, and 20.6% of those aged 20-29.

“Older workers with less than a high school diploma had the highest share of workers (77.2 percent) in difficult jobs [that is, either physically demanding jobs or jobs with difficult working conditions]. Those with an advanced degree had the lowest share of workers (22 percent) in difficult jobs,” according to a 2010 analysis of job characteristics data.

In 2009, “10.8 percent of workers age 65 or older who had not completed high school were unemployed, compared with 5.8 percent of their counterparts who completed four or more years of college, according to a 2009 analysis of data from the Current Population Survey.

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