IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

Earnings Returns to Different Educational Careers: The Relative Importance of Type vs. Field of Education

Listed author(s):
  • Curdin Pfister


    (Department of Business Administration, University of Zurich)

  • Simone Tuor Sartore


    (Department of Business Administration, University of Zurich)

  • Uschi Backes-Gellner


    (Department of Business Administration, University of Zurich)

The two choices that students in many Western European countries must make during their educational career are the type of education (vocational vs. academic) and the subject area (the specific field of education). However, most studies on the effect of education on earnings consider only one of these two factors. In addition, most of these studies focus exclusively on average returns and neglect the variance of the returns, thus overlooking important aspects of the nature of the returns to education such as the risk in human capital investments. In this study, we consider both factors type of education and subject area at the same time to estimate earning returns and to examine how much these two factors contribute to the variance of earnings in later careers. We use the Swiss Adult Education Survey from 2011 and construct a sample of individuals with tertiary level educational degree, estimating earnings regressions and decomposing the variance in earnings for type of education and subject area. Decomposition results show that field of education, relative to subject area, explains double the variation in earnings. Given our findings that earnings relate more to subject area than to type of education, the question of which type of education—academic or vocational—an individual chooses is less relevant than the question of which field he or she chooses to specialize in.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by University of Zurich, Department of Business Administration (IBW) in its series Economics of Education Working Paper Series with number 0107.

in new window

Length: 28 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2015
Handle: RePEc:iso:educat:0107
Contact details of provider: Postal:
Plattenstrasse 14, CH-8032 Zürich

Phone: ++41 1 634 29 27
Fax: ++41 1 634 43 48
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

No references listed on IDEAS
You can help add them by filling out this form.

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:iso:educat:0107. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Sara Brunner)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.