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

Author

Listed:
  • Walker, Ian

    (Lancaster University)

  • Zhu, Yu

    (University of Dundee)

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Walker, Ian & Zhu, Yu, 2005. "The College Wage Premium, Overeducation, and the Expansion of Higher Education in the UK," IZA Discussion Papers 1627, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp1627
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Is the graduate premium falling?
      by chris dillow in Stumbling and Mumbling on 2009-01-28 20:23:06

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    Cited by:

    1. Aleksandra Kolasa, 2017. "Macroeconomic consequences of the demographic and educational transition in Poland," Working Papers 2017-30, Faculty of Economic Sciences, University of Warsaw.
    2. Cheron, Arnaud & Langot, François & Moreno-Galbis, Eva, 2007. "The dynamic of job competition during the ICT revolution," CEPREMAP Working Papers (Docweb) 0702, CEPREMAP.
    3. Francis Green & Yu Zhu, 2010. "Overqualification, job dissatisfaction, and increasing dispersion in the returns to graduate education," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 62(4), pages 740-763, October.
    4. Steve Machin & Anna Vignoles, 2005. "Education Policy in the UK," ifo DICE Report, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 3(04), pages 64-74, January.
    5. Chevalier, Arnaud, 2011. "Subject choice and earnings of UK graduates," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(6), pages 1187-1201.
    6. Richard Blundell & David A. Green & Wenchao (Michelle) Jin, 2016. "The UK wage premium puzzle: how did a large increase in university graduates leave the education premium unchanged?," IFS Working Papers W16/01, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
    7. Markus Klein, 2016. "The association between graduates’ field of study and occupational attainment in West Germany, 1980–2008 [Der Zusammenhang zwischen Studienfach und beruflichem Erfolg von Hochschulabsolventen in We," Journal for Labour Market Research, Springer;Institute for Employment Research/ Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), vol. 49(1), pages 43-58, July.
    8. Richard Blundell & David A Green & Wenchao Jin, 2022. "The U.K. as a Technological Follower: Higher Education Expansion and the College Wage Premium [Why Do New Technologies Complement Skills? Directed Technical Change and Wage Inequality]," The Review of Economic Studies, Review of Economic Studies Ltd, vol. 89(1), pages 142-180.
    9. Heshmati, Almas, 2007. "Labor Market Policy Options of the Kurdistan Regional Government," IZA Discussion Papers 3247, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    10. Charley Greenwood & Andrew Jenkins & Anna Vignoles, 2007. "The Returns to Qualifications in England: Updating the Evidence Base on Level 2 and Level 3 Vocational Qualifications," CEE Discussion Papers 0089, Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE.
    11. Steve Machin & Anna Vignoles, 2005. "Education Policy in the UK," ifo DICE Report, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 3(4), pages 64-74, 01.
    12. Peng, Fei & Kang, Lili, 2013. "Cyclical changes in the wage structure of the United Kingdom: a historical review of the GHS 1972-2002," MPRA Paper 47210, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    13. Michael Gebel & Friedhelm Pfeiffer, 2010. "Educational Expansion and Its Heterogeneous Returns for Wage Workers," Schmollers Jahrbuch : Journal of Applied Social Science Studies / Zeitschrift für Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, vol. 130(1), pages 19-42.
    14. Arnaud Chevalier & Joanne Lindley, 2009. "Overeducation and the skills of UK graduates," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 172(2), pages 307-337, April.
    15. Séamus McGuinness, 2006. "Overeducation in the Labour Market," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 20(3), pages 387-418, July.
    16. Torge Middendorf, 2008. "Returns to Education in Europe – Detailed Results from a Harmonized Survey," Ruhr Economic Papers 0065, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen.
    17. Grazier, Suzanne & O'Leary, Nigel C. & Sloane, Peter J., 2008. "Graduate Employment in the UK: An Application of the Gottschalk-Hansen Model," IZA Discussion Papers 3618, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    18. 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.
    19. Longhi, Simonetta & Brynin, Malcolm, 2007. "Job competition amongst university graduates," ISER Working Paper Series 2007-18, Institute for Social and Economic Research.
    20. Powdthavee, Nattavudh & Vignoles, Anna, 2006. "Using rate of return analyses to understand sector skill needs," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 19408, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    21. Wang, Le, 2012. "Economic transition and college premium in urban China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 238-252.
    22. repec:ces:ifodic:v:3:y:2005:i:4:p:14567581 is not listed on IDEAS
    23. repec:zbw:rwirep:0065 is not listed on IDEAS
    24. Seamus McGuinness & Jessica Bennett, 2009. "Changes in the returns to schooling 1991-2002: evidence from the British Household Panel Survey," Education Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 17(2), pages 167-184.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    college premium; higher education; human capital;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • J30 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - General

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