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Research in Higher Education

, Volume 58, Issue 8, pp 843–878 | Cite as

Who Benefits Most from a University Degree?: A Cross-National Comparison of Selection and Wage Returns in the US, UK, and Germany

Article

Abstract

Recent research on economic returns to higher education in the United States suggests that those with the highest wage returns to a college degree are least likely to obtain one. We extend the study of heterogeneous returns to tertiary education across multiple institutional contexts, investigating how the relationship between wage returns and the propensity to complete a degree varies by the level of expansion, differentiation, and cost of higher education. Drawing on panel data and matching techniques, we compare findings from the US with selection into degree completion in Germany and the UK. Contrary to previous studies, we find little evidence for population level heterogeneity in economic returns to higher education.

Keywords

Selection Cross-national comparison Returns to higher education Wage returns 

Notes

Acknowledgements

This research was supported by a Grant from the John Fell Fund at the University of Oxford, by a Grant from the British Academy, and the Economic and Social Research Council [Grant No. ES/L009153/1]. Previous versions of this article were presented at the European Population Conference in 2012 and the Population Association of America meetings in 2013. We would like to thank Mike Brewer, Tom DiPrete, and Eric Grodsky for their comments and advice on previous drafts. This Project was completed with research assistance from Gwendolyn Blossfeld, Beatriz Diaz Cuervo, and Sarah Wilkins Laflamme.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of EssexColchesterUK
  2. 2.Yammer MicrosoftSan FranciscoUSA

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