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The Wage Premium on Tertiary Education: New Estimates for 21 OECD Countries

Listed author(s):
  • Hubert Strauss
  • Christine de la Maisonneuve


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    This paper presents cross-section estimates of gross hourly wage premia on tertiary education. They are based on a unified framework for 21 OECD countries from the 1990s to the early 2000s and use international household surveys to maximise international comparability. The results of the “augmented” Mincerian wage equations point to an average hourly gross wage premium on completed tertiary education of 55% in 2001 (country-gender average), translating into a premium of close to 11% per annum of tertiary education. Wage premia display little variation over time but huge cross-country variation: at 6% they are lowest in Greece and Spain (men and women) as well as in Austria and Italy (women) while reaching 14%-18% in Hungary, Portugal, and in most Anglo-Saxon countries. Given that the wage premium is the single most important driver of private returns to education, the results presented here have potentially important implications for policies that aim at increasing investment in human capital. La prime salariale pour l'éducation supérieure : nouvelles estimations pour 21 pays de l'OCDE Cette étude présente des estimations transversales de la prime salariale horaire brute pour l’éducation supérieure qui reposent sur un cadre harmonisé pour 21 pays de l’OCDE entre les années 90 et le début des années 2000. L’étude est basée sur des enquêtes internationales auprès des ménages afin de maximiser la comparaison entre pays. L’ « extension » des équations salariales de Mincer donne comme résultat une prime salariale horaire moyenne brute à l’achèvement d’un diplôme d’éducation supérieure de 55% en 2001 (en moyenne pour les hommes et les femmes pour tous les pays), ce qui est équivalent à près de 11% par année d’éducation supérieure. Les primes salariales varient peu au cours du temps mais de manière significative à travers les pays : les plus faibles sont en Grèce et en Espagne à 6% (hommes et femmes) ainsi qu’en Autriche et en Italie (femmes) alors qu’elles atteignent 14%-18% en Hongrie, au Portugal et dans la plupart des pays anglo-saxons. Étant donné que la prime salariale est le déterminant le plus important du rendement privé de l’éducation supérieure, les résultats peuvent avoir des implications importantes pour les politiques visant l’augmentation du stock de capital humain.

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    Paper provided by OECD Publishing in its series OECD Economics Department Working Papers with number 589.

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    Date of creation: 20 Dec 2007
    Handle: RePEc:oec:ecoaaa:589-en
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