System Working Paper 17-27

The Unequal Distribution of Economic Education: A Report on the Race, Ethnicity, and Gender of Economics Majors at US Colleges and Universities

Amanda Bayer | Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
David Wilcox | Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System

Published November 20, 2017

The distribution of economic education among US college graduates is quite unequal: female and underrepresented minority undergraduates, collectively, major in economics at 0.36 the rate that white, non-Hispanic male students do. This paper makes a four-part contribution to address this imbalance. First and foremost, we provide detailed comparative data at the institution level to provoke and inform the attention of economists and senior administrators at colleges and universities, among others. Second, we establish a definition of full inclusion in economic education on college and university campuses and use that definition to evaluate the status quo and to compare institutions. Third, we illuminate the reasons why the need to improve the distribution of economic education is urgent, including the imperative to support economic policymaking. Lastly, we point the way forward, identifying both currently available resources and reasonable next steps for all involved parties to take.

Read the PDF ›