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The Private Internal Rates of Return to Tertiary Education: New Estimates for 21 OECD Countries


  • Romina Boarini


  • Hubert Strauss


This study provides estimates of the private Internal Rates of Return (IRR) to tertiary education for women and men in 21 OECD countries, for the years between 1991 and 2005. IRR are computed by estimating labour market premia on cross-country comparable individual-level data. Labour market premia are then adjusted for fiscal factors and education cost. Returns to an additional year of tertiary education are, on average, above 8% and vary in a range from 4 to 15% in the countries and in the period under study. IRR are relatively homogenous across gender. Overall, a slightly increasing trend is observed over time. The study discusses various policy levers for shaping individual incentives to invest in tertiary education and provides some illustrative quantification of the impact of policy changes on those incentives. Les taux de rendement privés de l'éducation supérieure : nouvelles estimations pour 21 pays de l'OCDE Cette étude fournit des estimations des taux de rendement privés de l'éducation supérieure, pour les hommes ainsi que pour les femmes, dans 21 pays de l'OCDE et pour les années comprises entre 1991 et 2005. Les rendements sont calculés en estimant les primes sur le marché du travail à partir de données individuelles comparables entre les pays. Ces primes sont ensuite corrigées par des facteurs fiscaux et par les coûts de l'éducation. Les rendements d'une année supplémentaire d'enseignement supérieur sont en moyenne supérieurs à 8%, et varient dans un intervalle de 4% à 15% entre pays et pour la période considérée. Les rendements sont à peu près les mêmes pour les hommes et pour les femmes. Dans l'ensemble, une légère tendance à la hausse apparaît dans la période d'observation. L'étude examine l’influence des différentes politiques sur les incitations individuelles à investir dans l'éducation supérieure et propose des estimations de l'impact des réformes sur ces incitations.

Suggested Citation

  • Romina Boarini & Hubert Strauss, 2007. "The Private Internal Rates of Return to Tertiary Education: New Estimates for 21 OECD Countries," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 591, OECD Publishing.
  • Handle: RePEc:oec:ecoaaa:591-en
    DOI: 10.1787/031008650733

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    Cited by:

    1. Andrea Ichino & Loukas Karabarbounis & Enrico Moretti, 2011. "The Political Economy Of Intergenerational Income Mobility," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 49(1), pages 47-69, January.
    2. Guarini, Giulio & Laureti, Tiziana & Garofalo, Giuseppe, 2020. "Socio-institutional determinants of educational resource efficiency according to the capability approach: An endogenous stochastic frontier analysis," Socio-Economic Planning Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 71(C).
    3. Storm, Ilse & Uiters, Ellen & Busch, Mirjam C.M. & den Broeder, Lea & Schuit, Albertine J., 2015. "The relevance of work-related learning for vulnerable groups. Dutch case study of a Health Impact Assessment with equity focus," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 119(7), pages 915-924.
    4. Peter Huber & Julia Bock‐Schappelwein, 2014. "The Effects of Liberalizing Migration on Permanent Migrants' Education Structure," Journal of Common Market Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 52(2), pages 268-284, March.
    5. Orsetta Causa & Catherine Chapuis, 2009. "Equity in Student Achievement Across OECD Countries: An Investigation of the Role of Policies," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 708, OECD Publishing.
    6. Andrew Sharpe & Jean-François Arsenault, 2009. "A Review of the Potential Impacts of the Métis Human Resources Development Agreements in Canada," CSLS Research Reports 2009-01, Centre for the Study of Living Standards.
    7. Fan, Jing-bo & Zhang, Cheng-gang, 2015. "A study of the rate of return to higher engineering education in China," International Journal of Educational Development, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 106-114.

    More about this item


    investment in tertiary education; labour market premia; Primes du marché du travail; Rendements de l’éducation; returns to education; éducation supérieure;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I22 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Educational Finance; Financial Aid
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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