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Educational attainment is a term commonly used by statisticians to refer to the highest degree of education an individual has completed.
The US Census Bureau Glossary defines educational attainment as "the highest level of education completed in terms of the highest degree or the highest level of schooling completed."
In the latter half of the 20th century and the start of the 21st century, educational attainment- especially in the Western world and in developed countries- was for the first time greater in women than in men. Soon, it is projected that more women will earn more graduate and first professional degrees than men, including in the professions (medicine, law, religious studies, educational careers) and in the traditionally male-dominated fields of science, mathematics, and engineering. Women are already earning more primary and secondary school diplomas and undergraduate degrees than men are in many of those countries. More women can afford to be permanently single or in a non-marital relationship; and more are working and among those who do work, more are working full-time. This is also aided by the fact that women are waiting longer to marry, if they so choose, and (if they do) to have children, even into the mid- to late-thirties. They have better maternal morbidity and mortality and more control over crucial issues such as access to and use of contraceptive methods, access to safe and legal abortions, reproductive health (including prenatal, perinatal, and postnatal care, pre-conception genetic and prenatal diagnostic testing, and gynecological cancer screening), and family structure. These things are reinforced by better schooling, especially for those women who have graduated from high school and have some form of post-secondary education (ideally, an associate or baccalaureate degree; income, affluence, and health of children, if any, improve further still with even higher levels of the woman's education- though many of these women either do not have biological children or wait to marry and have them until their mid-to-late 30s or later, when the rate of maternal complications and birth defects is higher- especially with inadequate care). Men have longer, happier lives with better physical and mental health- and have more income- if they marry a woman whose income and education are as high or higher than theirs, especially if they are high school graduates or higher; it is a more important indicator of future well-being than their own income or educational level. Men and women who are married and have both at least graduated from high school experience better sexual relationships and sex lives than those who have not. Men who are unmarried, but who have male and female close friends with equal or higher levels of income and education also fare better than those without such partnerships, and this is at least as important, if not more important, than their own income level or educational level. All of these things are related to the fact that education improves one's income level and one's critical and analytical thinking (problem-solving) skills, as well as one's access to further education, better and more comprehensive health care, social services, and insurance, better and more secure family lives (usually, but not always), better child care and schooling for one's children, happier working lives, and better housing (including the safety of the area from violent crime).
See also 
- Educational attainment in the United States
- Academic degree
- Bachelor's degree
- Master's degree
- Doctorate degree
- "US Census Bureau glossary". Retrieved 2006-06-30.