Returns to Education in Australia
Using data from the 2001-2005 waves of the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia survey, and taking account of existing estimates of ability bias and social returns to schooling, I estimate the economic return to various levels of education. Raising high school attainment appears to yield the highest annual benefits, with per-year gains as high as 30 percent (depending on the adjustment for ability bias). Some forms of vocational training also appear to boost earnings, with significant gains from Certificate Level III/IV qualifications (for high school dropouts only), and from Diploma and Advanced Diploma qualifications. At the university level, Bachelor degrees and postgraduate qualifications are associated with significantly higher earnings, with each year of a Bachelor degree raising annual earnings by about 15 percent. For high school, slightly less than half the gains are due to increased productivity, with the rest due to higher levels of participation. For vocational training, about one-third of the gains are from productivity, and two-thirds from greater participation. For university, most of the gains are from productivity. I find some evidence that the productivity benefits of education are higher towards the top of the distribution, but the participation effects are higher towards the bottom of the conditional earnings distribution.
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