How much does degree choice matter?

Britton, Jack and Erve, Laura van der and Belfield, Chris and Vignoles, Anna and Dickson, Matt and Zhu, Yu and Walker, Ian and Dearden, Lorraine and Sibieta, Luke and Buscha, Franz (2022) How much does degree choice matter? Labour Economics. ISSN 0927-5371 (In Press)

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We use a large and novel administrative dataset to investigate returns to different university ‘degrees’ (subject-institution combinations) in the United Kingdom. Conditioning on a rich set of background characteristics, we find substantial variation in returns across degrees with similar selectivity levels, suggesting students’ degree choices matter a lot for later-life earnings. Returns increase with university selectivity much more at the top of the selectivity distribution than further down, and much more for some subjects than others. Returns are poorly correlated with observable degree characteristics other than selectivity, which could have important implications for student choices and the incentives of universities.

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Journal Article
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Labour Economics
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This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Labour Economics. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Labour Economics, vol., pages, 2022 DOI: 10.1016/j.labeco.2022.102268
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10 Oct 2022 10:35
In Press
Last Modified:
22 Nov 2022 11:56