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The Wage Expectations of European College Students

  • Brunello, Giorgio


    (University of Padova)

  • Lucifora, Claudio


    (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore)

  • Winter-Ebmer, Rudolf


    (University of Linz)

Expected earnings and expected returns to education are seen by labor economists as a major determinant of educational attainment. In spite of this, the empirical knowledge about expectations and their formation is scarce. In this paper we report the results of the first systematic study of the wage expectations of European college students. Our data are based on the replies to the same questionnaire by more than 6000 college students all over Europe. We study the determinants of wage expectations and expected employment probabilities, the variability of these expectations within a field of study and their variation across universities and fields. We also examine the trade-off between expected starting wages and wage growth. In the final section of the paper, we contrast expected returns to education with actual returns estimated from country-specific micro-data. In line with U.S. studies we find that students overestimate returns to education.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 299.

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Length: 49 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2001
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Journal of Human Resources, 2004, 39 (4), 1116-1142
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp299
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  1. Jeff Dominitz & Charles F. Manski, 1994. "Eliciting Student Expectations Of The Returns To Schooling," Econometrics 9411002, EconWPA.
  2. Manski, C.F., 1991. "Adolescent Econometricians : How Do Youth Infer the Returns to Schooling," Working papers 9110, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  3. Julian R. Betts, 1996. "What Do Students Know about Wages? Evidence from a Survey of Undergraduates," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 31(1), pages 27-56.
  4. Winter-Ebmer, Rudolf & Wirz, Aniela, 2002. "Public Funding and Enrolment into Higher Education in Europe," IZA Discussion Papers 503, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Betts, Julian R, 1998. "The Impact of Educational Standards on the Level and Distribution of Earnings," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(1), pages 266-75, March.
  6. Carvajal, Manuel J. & Bendana, David & Bozorgmanesh, Alireza & Castillo, Miguel A. & Pourmasiha, Katayoun & Rao, Priya & Torres, Juan A., 2000. "Inter-gender differentials between college students' earnings expectations and the experience of recent graduates," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 229-243, June.
  7. Charles T. Clotfelter & Michael Rothschild, 1993. "Studies of Supply and Demand in Higher Education," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number clot93-1, December.
  8. Francine D. Blau & Marianne A. Ferber, 1991. "Career Plans and Expectations of Young Women and Men: The Earnings Gap and Labor Force Participation," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 26(4), pages 581-607.
  9. Daron Acemoglu, 2000. "Technical Change, Inequality, and the Labor Market," NBER Working Papers 7800, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Eli Berman & John Bound & Zvi Griliches, 1993. "Changes in the Demand for Skilled Labor within U.S. Manufacturing Industries: Evidence from the Annual Survey of Manufacturing," NBER Working Papers 4255, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Nickell, Stephen, 1979. "Education and Lifetime Patterns of Unemployment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages S117-31, October.
  12. Moulton, Brent R, 1990. "An Illustration of a Pitfall in Estimating the Effects of Aggregate Variables on Micro Unit," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 72(2), pages 334-38, May.
  13. Leonard, Jonathan S, 1982. "Wage Expectations in the Labor Market: Survey Evidence on Rationality," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 64(1), pages 157-61, February.
  14. Joseph G. Altonji, 1991. "The Demand for and Return to Education When Education Outcomes are Uncertain," NBER Working Papers 3714, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Nickell, Stephen & Bell, Brian, 1995. "The Collapse in Demand for the Unskilled and Unemployment across the OECD," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 11(1), pages 40-62, Spring.
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