This indicator focuses on the effect of gender on the earnings of college graduates who majored in the humanities, revealing that the gender pay gap that characterizes the U.S. workforce as a whole is also found among humanities majors and is more pronounced for older workers.
Findings and Trends
* Full-time workers are those who worked 35 or more hours per week for 50 or more weeks in the previous 12 months.Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2013 American Community Survey Public-Use Microdata Sample.
The range of “typical” or “usual” values exhibited by a population of persons or objects is described through the use of a statistic referred to as the “interquartile range,” which ignores the most extreme values of a sample distribution. Quartiles are statistics that divide the observations of a numeric sample into four groups, each of which contains 25% of the data. The lower, middle, and upper quartiles are computed by ordering the values for a particular variable (earnings, in this case) from smallest to largest and then finding the values below which fall 25%, 50%, and 75% of the data. The middle quartile is also known as the median. The lower quartile and the upper quartile define the interquartile range.
The information presented here is based on an original analysis by the Humanities Indicators (HI) of data from the American Community Survey (ACS), which has been administered on an annual basis by the U.S. Census Bureau since 2005. The ACS replaced the “long form” version of the decennial census and collects information—used to allocate more than $400 billion in state and federal funding—about Americans’ personal characteristics, family composition, employment, income, and housing.
For the purposes of ACS, the U.S. Census Bureau defines earnings as “the sum of wage or salary income and net income from self-employment. ‘Earnings’ represent the amount of income received regularly for people 16 years old and over before deductions for personal income taxes, Social Security, bond purchases, union dues, Medicare deductions, etc. An individual with earnings is one who has either wage/salary income or self-employment income, or both. Respondents who ‘break even’ in self-employment income and therefore have zero self-employment earnings also are considered ‘individuals with earnings’” (from ACS documentation provided at http://www2.census.gov/programs-surveys/acs/tech_docs/subject_definitions/2014_ACSSubjectDefinitions.pdf, 83).
A full-time worker is defined as an individual who has worked at least 35 hours per week for 50 or more weeks, including paid vacation, in the preceding 12 months.
All earnings estimates are for the 12 months preceding response to the ACS and have been rounded to the nearest $1,000.
This indicator features estimates of the 25th, 50th, and 75th percentile annual earnings for humanities majors. The 25th and 75th percentiles are known as the lower and upper quartiles. Quartiles are statistics that divide the observations of a numeric sample into four groups, each of which contains 25% of the data. The lower, middle, and upper quartiles are computed by ordering the values for a particular variable from smallest to largest and then finding the values below which fall 25%, 50%, and 75% of the data. The lower quartile and the upper quartile are the two values that define the interquartile range (the middle quartile is also known as the median). The interquartile range, which excludes the most extreme values of a data distribution, is used to describe the range of “typical” or “usual” values exhibited by a set of persons or objects.
The ACS permits respondents to specify up to two fields of bachelor’s degree. For the purposes of this analysis, an individual was counted as having a bachelor’s degree in the humanities if the field of either reported degree was within the scope of the humanities as specified by the HI.
Information regarding the specific disciplines treated as within the humanities for the purposes of this analysis is provided in the ACS-HI Crosswalk.
The ACS does not ask respondents about their amount of work experience. Thus the HI uses age to distinguish between workers who are in the first years of their career and those who are more experienced. Age and work experience are not perfectly correlated, but age does provide an approximate measure of work experience that allows the HI to examine the effect of this experience on unemployment and earnings of humanities majors.
For additional data regarding the earnings of humanities majors, see “Earnings of Humanities Majors with a Terminal Bachelor’s Degree,” “Earnings of Humanities Majors with an Advanced Degree” and “Effects of Experience on the Earnings of College Majors.”
For information on the occupations of those who studied the humanities in college, see “Occupations of College Graduates Who Majored in Humanities Disciplines,” “Occupations of College Humanities Majors with an Advanced Degree,” and “Gender and the Occupations of Humanities Majors.”
For unemployment data, see “The Employment Status of Humanities Majors.”
For historical trends in the number of students who have earned degrees in the humanities, see “Associate’s Degrees in the Humanities,” “Bachelor’s Degrees in the Humanities,” and “Advanced Degrees in the Humanities.”
The Humanities Indicators and Departmental Survey have been made possible in part
by grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the National Endowment for the
Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this
website do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
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