Cohort Effects in Annual Earnings by Field of Study Among British Columbia University Graduates
Using a dataset which combines the 1982-1997 tax records and administrative records of British Columbia bachelor's graduates from the classes of 1974-1996, this study examine the real annual earnings of graduates across 20 major fields of study for significant changes in earnings across cohorts. Male graduates in more recent cohorts had lower mean earnings after graduation but higher returns to experience. Recent cohorts of women graduates had equal earnings levels after graduation and higher returns to experience. Mean earnings differed among fields of study, favouring applied degrees in teacher training, commerce, engineering, nursing and medical sciences, but cohort effects were statistically identical for graduates from all fields of study. These results show no evidence of a major change in earnings consistent with a decline in returns to a university education, or a shift in demand favouring specific degrees.
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