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Chapter 1: Demographic Context

Indicator 2: Parents' Educational Attainment

In 2010, no measurable differences were found in parental educational attainment between male and female children, but racial/ethnic groups differed on this background indicator.

This indicator describes children ages 6 to 18 in terms of the highest education level of either parent in the household, with a focus on three educational attainment levels: less than high school completion, high school completion, and completion of a bachelor's or higher degree. In 2010, about 11 percent of children between the ages of 6 and 18 lived in a household where neither parent had earned at least a high school credential (either a diploma or an equivalency credential such as a General Educational Development [GED] certificate). Twenty-one percent of children had at least one parent whose highest level of educational attainment was completing high school, and 35 percent of children between the ages of 6 and 18 had at least one parent who had completed a bachelor's or higher degree.

The percentage of children with parents who had not earned a high school credential was 11 percent for both males and females. There were no measurable differences by sex in the percentage of children whose parents' highest level of education was completing high school, nor were differences found by sex for children whose parents' highest educational attainment was earning a bachelor's degree or higher. When measuring differences by sex within racial/ethnic groups, none were found at any of the three levels of educational attainment examined (less than high school completion, high school completion, and bachelor's or higher degree completion).

A higher percentage of Hispanic children (31 percent) than children of all other/racial ethnic groups had parents who had not completed high school. In addition, a higher percentage of Black children (11 percent) had parents who had not completed high school than had Asian (10 percent), Alaska Native (7 percent), Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (5 percent), children of two or more races (5 percent), and White children (4 percent). The percentages of American Indian (11 percent) and Asian children whose parents had not completed high school were higher than those for White children, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander children, and children of two or more races. These overall race/ethnicity patterns were similar for females and males across all reported racial/ethnic groups, except that no measurable differences were found between Black males and Asian and Alaska Native males.

The percentage of children whose parents had completed high school as their highest level of educational attainment also differed across racial/ethnic groups. Higher percentages of Alaska Natives (37 percent), Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders (30 percent), Blacks (27 percent), Hispanics (25 percent), and American Indians (25 percent) had parents who completed high school as their highest level of education compared with Whites (18 percent), Asians (13 percent), and children of two or more races (17 percent). The percentage for Alaska Native children was also higher than the percentages for Black and Hispanic children.

The percentage of Asian children (59 percent) who had parents with at least a bachelor's degree was higher than the percentages of children of all other racial/ethnic groups. The percentages of Asian, White (44 percent), and children of two or more races (38 percent) who had parents with a bachelor's degree or higher were larger than the corresponding percentages of Black (20 percent), Hispanic (16 percent), Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (18 percent), American Indian (18 percent), and Alaska Native children (16 percent).

Technical Notes

Parent education reflects the highest level of education attained by any parent residing with the child. Parents include adoptive and step-parents but exclude nonresidential parents.


Figure 2-1 Percentage of children ages 6–18 whose parents’ highest level of educational attainment was less than high school completion, by child’s race/ethnicity and sex: 2010

Figure 2-2 Percentage of children ages 6–18 whose parents’ highest level of educational attainment was a bachelor’s degree or higher, by child’s race/ethnicity and sex: 2010

Table E-2-1 Percentage distribution of children ages 6–18, by parents’ highest level of educational attainment and child’s sex and race/ethnicity: 2010

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