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What is the private return to tertiary education?: New evidence from 21 OECD countries


  • Romina Boarini
  • Hubert Strauss


This article provides estimates of the private Internal Rates of Return to tertiary education for women and men in 21 OECD countries, for the years between 1991 and 2005. IRR are computed by estimating labour market premia on cross-country comparable individual-level data. Labour market premia are then adjusted for fiscal factors and costs of education. We find that returns to an additional year of tertiary education are on average above 8% and vary in a range from 4 to 15% in the countries and in the period under study. IRR are relatively homogenous across genders. Overall, a slightly increasing trend is observed over time. The article discusses various policy levers for shaping individual incentives to invest in tertiary education and provides some illustrative quantification of the impact of policy changes on those incentives.

Suggested Citation

  • Romina Boarini & Hubert Strauss, 2010. "What is the private return to tertiary education?: New evidence from 21 OECD countries," OECD Journal: Economic Studies, OECD Publishing, vol. 2010(1), pages 1-25.
  • Handle: RePEc:oec:ecokac:5kmh5x51fv5f

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    Cited by:

    1. George J. Borjas & Ilpo Kauppinen & Panu Poutvaara, 2015. "Self-Selection of Emigrants: Theory and Evidence on Stochastic Dominance in Observable and Unobservable Characteristics," CESifo Working Paper Series 5567, CESifo Group Munich.
    2. De Rosa, Dalila & Semplici, Lorenzo, 2016. "Prospettive di domanda ed offerta di benessere multidimensionale," AICCON Working Papers 147-2016, Associazione Italiana per la Cultura della Cooperazione e del Non Profit.
    3. repec:rss:jnljse:v3i4p1 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Matthias Figo & Peter Mayerhofer, 2015. "Strukturwandel und regionales Wachstum - wissensintensive Unternehmensdienste als Wachstumsmotor?," Working Paper Reihe der AK Wien - Materialien zu Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft 145, Kammer für Arbeiter und Angestellte für Wien, Abteilung Wirtschaftswissenschaft und Statistik.
    5. Lehouelleur, Sophie & Beblavý, Miroslav & Maselli,Ilaria, 2015. "How returns from tertiary education differ by field of study: Implications for policy-makers and students," CEPS Papers 10835, Centre for European Policy Studies.

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