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The College Wage Premium, Overeducation, and the Expansion of Higher Education in the UK

  • Walker, Ian

    ()

    (Lancaster University)

  • Zhu, Yu

    ()

    (University of Dundee)

This paper provides findings from the UK Labour Force Surveys from 1996 to 2003 on the financial private returns to a degree – the "college premium". The data covers a decade when the university participation rate doubled – yet we find no significant evidence that the mean return to a degree dropped in response to this large increase in the flow of graduates. However, we do find quite large falls in returns when we compare the cohorts that went to university before and after the recent rapid expansion of HE. The evidence is consistent with the notion that new graduates are a close substitute for recent graduates but poor substitutes for older graduates. There appears to have been a very recent increase in the number of graduates getting "non-graduate" jobs but, conditional on getting a graduate job the returns seem stable. Our results are consistent across almost all degree subjects – the exception being maths and engineering where we find that for men, and especially for women, there is a large increase in the proportion with maths and engineering degrees getting graduate jobs and that, conditional on this, the return is rising.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 1627.

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Length: 32 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2005
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Scandinavian Journal of Economics, 2008, 110 (4), 695-709
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp1627
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  1. Richard Blundell & Lorraine Dearden & Barbara Sianesi, 2004. "Evaluating the impact of education on earnings in the UK: models, methods and results from the NCDS," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 19451, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  2. Arnaud Chevalier & Colm Harmon & Ian Walker & Yu Zhu, 2004. "Does Education Raise Productivity, or Just Reflect it?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(499), pages F499-F517, November.
  3. David Greenaway & Michelle Haynes, 2003. "Funding Higher Education in The UK: The Role of Fees and Loans," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(485), pages F150-F166, February.
  4. Amanda Gosling & Stephen Machin & Costas Meghir, 1994. "The changing distribution of male wages in the UK," IFS Working Papers W94/13, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  5. Taber, Christopher R, 2001. "The Rising College Premium in the Eighties: Return to College or Return to Unobserved Ability?," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 68(3), pages 665-91, July.
  6. Steven McIntosh, 2004. "Further analysis of the returns to academic and vocational qualifications," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 19472, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  7. Nigel C. O’Leary & Peter J. Sloane, 2005. "The Return to a University Education in Great Britain," National Institute Economic Review, National Institute of Economic and Social Research, vol. 193(1), pages 75-89, July.
  8. David Card & Thomas Lemieux, 2000. "Can Falling Supply Explain the Rising Return to College for Younger Men? A Cohort-Based Analysis," NBER Working Papers 7655, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. O'Leary, Nigel C. & Sloane, Peter J., 2005. "The Changing Wage Return to an Undergraduate Education," IZA Discussion Papers 1549, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  10. Lorraine Dearden & Steven McIntosh & Michal Myck & Anna Vignoles, 2000. "The Returns to Academic and Vocational Qualifications in Britain," CEE Discussion Papers 0004, Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE.
  11. Harmon, C & Ian Walker, 1995. "Estimates of the economic return to schooling for the UK," IFS Working Papers W95/12, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  12. McGuinness, Seamus & Bennett, Jessica, 2007. "Overeducation in the graduate labour market: A quantile regression approach," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 26(5), pages 521-531, October.
  13. Colm Harmon; & Ian Walker, 1995. "Estimates of Economic Return to Schooling in the UK," Economics, Finance and Accounting Department Working Paper Series n540195, Department of Economics, Finance and Accounting, National University of Ireland - Maynooth.
  14. Edwin Leuven & Barbara Sianesi, 2003. "PSMATCH2: Stata module to perform full Mahalanobis and propensity score matching, common support graphing, and covariate imbalance testing," Statistical Software Components S432001, Boston College Department of Economics, revised 19 Jan 2015.
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