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Can Perceived Returns Explain Enrollment Gaps in Postgraduate Education?

Teodora Boneva (), Marta Golin () and Christopher Rauh ()
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Teodora Boneva: Oxford University
Marta Golin: Oxford University

No 2019-045, Working Papers from Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group

Abstract: Postgraduate-degree holders comprise a significant share of the workforce and have better labor-market outcomes than workers who only hold a first degree. To understand students' motives to obtain postgraduate qualifications and what drives socioeconomic gaps in this decision, we elicit intentions to pursue postgraduate education and beliefs about its returns in a sample of 1,002 enrolled university students. We document large gaps in perceptions about different immediate and later-life benefits of postgraduate education, both between first- and continuing-generation students and within the latter group. Differences in student beliefs about returns across socioeconomic groups can account for 70% of the gaps in intentions to pursue postgraduate studies. We also document large differences in students' current undergraduate experiences by socioeconomic background and find these to be predictive of perceived returns to postgraduate education.

Keywords: higher education; beliefs; socioeconomic inequality; intergenerational mobility; postgraduate education (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I24 I26 J13 J24 J62 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019-07
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-eur and nep-lab
Note: ECI
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