Useless Degrees of Useless Statistics? A Comparison of the Net Present Value of Higher Education by Field of Study in Five European Countries

21 Pages Posted: 3 Mar 2014

See all articles by Miroslav Beblavy

Miroslav Beblavy

Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS)

Sophie Lehouelleur

Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS)

Ilaria Maselli

Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS)

Date Written: 2013

Abstract

With higher education increasingly available to young people regardless of their socioeconomic status, the question “what to study” is steadily replacing “whether to study” as the key question facing students today. This paper examines, in a comparative and methodologically innovative manner, incentives for studying various fields measured by net present value of university education. We use data from five European countries (France, Italy, Hungary, Poland and Slovenia) and include (opportunity) costs in the computation. Results suggest that enrolling in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) faculties is often not the best bargain, especially for female students. Decisions made by students are therefore consistent with their private returns, which points to the fact that if policy-makers desire to induce changes in behaviour, they should consider changing the incentives themselves.

Suggested Citation

Beblavy, Miroslav and Lehouelleur, Sophie and Maselli, Ilaria, Useless Degrees of Useless Statistics? A Comparison of the Net Present Value of Higher Education by Field of Study in Five European Countries (2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2402716 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2402716

Miroslav Beblavy (Contact Author)

Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) ( email )

1 Place du Congres
Brussels, 1000
Belgium

Sophie Lehouelleur

Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) ( email )

1 Place du Congres, 1000
Brussels, 1000
Belgium

Ilaria Maselli

Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) ( email )

1 Place du Congres
Brussels, 1000
Belgium

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