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The gender gap of returns on education across West European countries

Author

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  • Concetta Mendolicchio
  • Thomas Rhein

Abstract

Purpose - – The purpose of this paper is to study the gender specific private returns on education (RE) in Europe in a comparative perspective. The authors extend the model of de la Fuente (2003) by estimating the parameters by gender and introducing maternity leaves and benefits. The paper analyses the impact of the public policy variables evaluating the elasticities with respect to unemployment benefits, marginal and average tax rates, maternity leave and childcare benefits. Design/methodology/approach - – The authors estimate the Mincerian coefficients, with the Heckman’ selection model, for 12 West European countries using the EU-SILC data. The authors then use them as input to calibrate the decision model. Findings - – The RE of females tend to be higher than those of males in all the Europeans countries but Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden. The gender gap can be explained mainly by the wage premia and labour income taxes which more than compensate the negative effects on females’ returns triggered by higher unemployment rates and maternity-related benefits. Practical implications - – The tax system has the most pronounced effect on RE. An increase in the marginal tax rates has a negative impact. An increase in the average tax rates can have a negative or positive impact, depending on the progressivity of the tax system. An increase in unemployment benefits and maternity or child-care benefits has a negative but fairly small impact. Social implications - – The analysis considers just one dimension of maternity related policies: the effect on RE and differences across gender. These policies may have aims which are beyond the scope of this paper, for instance to increase fertility. From this viewpoint, the small values of the elasticities presented are reassuring in that they suggest that they can be implemented at a fairly small cost in terms of investment in human capital. Originality/value - – The authors compute the RE using a model which allows us to take into account and assess the significance of relevant variables: wage premium, income tax, some public transfers and benefits, costs of the investments. Moreover, the authors estimate the wage premia using relatively recent EU-SILC data. Finally, the paper compares 12 EU countries spanning quite different labour market conditions and institutions.

Suggested Citation

  • Concetta Mendolicchio & Thomas Rhein, 2014. "The gender gap of returns on education across West European countries," International Journal of Manpower, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 35(3), pages 219-249, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:eme:ijmpps:v:35:y:2014:i:3:p:219-249
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Angel de la Fuente & Juan Francisco Jimeno, 2004. "The private and fiscal returns to schooling and the effect of public policies on private incentives to invest in education: a general framework and some results for the EU," Working Papers 152, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
    2. James J. Heckman & Lance J. Lochner & Petra E. Todd, 2008. "Earnings Functions and Rates of Return," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 2(1), pages 1-31.
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    4. Angel de la Fuente & Rafael Doménech, 2006. "Human Capital in Growth Regressions: How Much Difference Does Data Quality Make?," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 4(1), pages 1-36, March.
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    6. Busch, Anne & Holst, Elke, 2011. "Gender-Specific Occupational Segregation, Glass Ceiling Effects, and Earnings in Managerial Positions: Results of a Fixed Effects Model," IZA Discussion Papers 5448, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    7. Biagetti, Marco & Scicchitano, Sergio, 2009. "Wage inequality and returns to schooling in Europe: a semi-parametric approach using EU-SILC data," MPRA Paper 19060, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. Santiago Budría & Pedro Telhado-Pereira, 2011. "Educational Qualifications And Wage Inequality: Evidence For Europe," Revista de Economia Aplicada, Universidad de Zaragoza, Departamento de Estructura Economica y Economia Publica, vol. 19(2), pages 5-34, Autumn.
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    11. de la Croix, David & Doepke, Matthias, 2004. "Public versus private education when differential fertility matters," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(2), pages 607-629, April.
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    13. Angel de la Fuente & Antonio Ciccone, 2003. "Human capital in a global and knowledge-based economy," UFAE and IAE Working Papers 562.03, Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC).
    14. Middendorf, Torge, 2008. "Returns to Education in Europe – Detailed Results from a Harmonized Survey," Ruhr Economic Papers 65, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.
    15. Blackburn, McKinley L & Bloom, David E & Neumark, David, 1993. "Fertility Timing, Wages, and Human Capital," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 6(1), pages 1-30.
    16. Davia, Maria A. & McGuinness, Seamus & O'Connell, Philip J., 2009. "Exploring International Differences in Rates of Return to Education: Evidence from EU SILC," Papers WP311, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Marco Caliendo & Jens Hogenacker & Steffen Künn & Frank Wießner, 2012. "Alte Idee, neues Programm: Der Gründungszuschuss als Nachfolger von Überbrückungsgeld und Ich-AG [Old idea, new program: The new start-up subsidy as a successor of the former bridging allowance and," Journal for Labour Market Research, Springer;Institute for Employment Research/ Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), vol. 45(2), pages 99-123, July.
    2. M Niaz Asadullah & Saizi Xiao, 2019. "Labor Market Returns to Education and English Language Skills in the People's Republic of China: An Update," Asian Development Review, MIT Press, vol. 36(1), pages 80-111, March.
    3. Asadullah, M. Niaz & Xiao, Saizi, 2020. "The changing pattern of wage returns to education in post-reform China," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 53(C), pages 137-148.
    4. Martina Mysikova & Jiri Vecernik, 2015. "Returns to education in transition and advanced European countries: The role of an expansion of higher education," Investigaciones de Economía de la Educación volume 10, in: Marta Rahona López & Jennifer Graves (ed.),Investigaciones de Economía de la Educación 10, edition 1, volume 10, chapter 44, pages 865-886, Asociación de Economía de la Educación.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Education; Europe; Public policy; Human capital;

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education

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