Puerto Rico

Population size
Mean years of schooling
Population 25 years and older
Gender gap in mean years of schooling
Male advantage, population 25 years and older
Universal lower secondary education reached in
Year 90% of 30-34 years old have at least lower secondary

Educational attainment

Puerto Rico 1900–2010, population 25 years and older

Loading …

Population by age, sex and education

Puerto Rico 1900–2010

Loading …

Main Findings

In 1900, only 1.1% of the Puerto Rican population older than 25 years had received at least lower secondary education. This proportion increased to 16.6% until 1950 and to 81.1% until 2010. By then, about 31.5% of the population aged 25 years or older finished a post-secondary education while 18.9% had primary education or less as their highest educational attainment. Mean years of schooling of the population 25 years or older increased from 0.7 years in 1900 to 3.4 years in 1950 and to 10.5 years in 2010.

Gender and Age

In Puerto Rico, gender differences in educational attainment have been only slowly diminishing during the first half of the 20th century. Then the picture reversed and the gender imbalance has turned in favour of women. In 1900, 1.5% of the men aged 25 years and older had at least lower secondary education, compared to 0.7% of the women. By 1950 about 27.4% of the men and 19.1% of the women aged 30 to 34 years had achieved at least lower secondary education while for instance this share was only 3.8% and 2.7% for the population aged 65–69. Although completed lower secondary education became universal for women by 1995 (91.0%), Puerto Rican men have not yet attained universality. Since 1980, there has been an inverse gender gap in higher education, with larger proportions of women completing post-secondary education than men. In 2010, about 48.6% of women in the 30–34 age group had post-secondary educational attainment, compared to 34.0% of men.

About the Data

The EDU20C estimates of the population of Puerto Rico by age, sex and education are based on several census datasets dating back to 1899. Puerto Rican censuses provide information on highest educational attainment in decennial intervals for the time since 1950. For the period before 1950, the EDU20C reconstruction relies on literacy data for 1899, 1910, 1920, 1930 and 1940. For Puerto Rico, all 6 education categories (aggregated to 4 before 1950) are available in the reconstruction model.


In the first historic census data covering information on education attainment data reliability issues arises from the different educational categorization compared to the current education system. For Puerto Rico it was necessary to generate life tables for missing data-points by interpolating/extrapolating life expectancies at birth by sex. The model fits a logistic function to existing life expectancies at birth, given the values of upper and lower asymptotes. Based on these estimated life expectancies we use a function that interpolates the logarithms of the probabilities of dying (nqx) from two life tables to generate a comprehensive set of life tables for the entire reconstruction period. Both R functions are in their methodological core based on the Population Analysis System (PAS) Excel templates E0LGST and INTPLTF/INTPLTM. Additionally, some historical source data on the population structure were only available for insufficient large open-ended age groups (e.g. 75+ years from 1900 to 1950), what required an age structure extension to 100+ years based on Lx information from the life tables. Furthermore, it was necessary to interpolate the intercensal data-points for population by age and sex using a linear interpolation function.

Source Data

For Puerto Rico the major source of data on population by age, sex and educational attainment in the 20th century originates from IPUMS and the US Census Bureau/USCB. For the EDU20C reconstruction, we also used information on mortality extracted from the life tables published by Vazguez et al. (1963).