Is Improving Access to University Enough? Socio‐Economic Gaps in the Earnings of English Graduates

41 Pages Posted: 7 Mar 2019

See all articles by Jack Britton

Jack Britton

Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS)

Lorraine Dearden

Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS)

Neil Shephard

Harvard University

Anna Vignoles

University of Cambridge

Date Written: April 2019

Abstract

Much research and policy attention has been on socio‐economic gaps in participation at university, but less attention has been paid to socio‐economic gaps in graduates’ earnings. This paper addresses this shortfall using tax and student loan administrative data to investigate the variation in earnings of English graduates by socio‐economic background. We find that graduates from higher income families (with median income of around 77,000) have average earnings which are 20% higher than those from lower income families (with median income of around £26,000). Once we condition on institution and subject choices, this premium roughly halves, to around 10%. The premium grows with age and is larger for men, in particular for men at the most selective universities. We estimate the extent to which different institutions and subjects appear to deliver good earnings for relatively less well off students, highlighting the strong performance of medicine, economics, law, business, engineering, technology and computer science, as well as the prominent London‐based universities.

Suggested Citation

Britton, Jack and Dearden, Lorraine and Shephard, Neil and Vignoles, Anna, Is Improving Access to University Enough? Socio‐Economic Gaps in the Earnings of English Graduates (April 2019). Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Vol. 81, Issue 2, pp. 328-368, 2019. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3347989 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/obes.12261

Jack Britton (Contact Author)

Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) ( email )

7 Ridgmount Street
London, WC1E 7AE
United Kingdom

Lorraine Dearden

Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) ( email )

7 Ridgmount Street
London, WC1E 7AE
United Kingdom

Neil Shephard

Harvard University ( email )

1875 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Anna Vignoles

University of Cambridge ( email )

Trinity Ln
Cambridge, CB2 1TN
United Kingdom

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