The labor market returns to ‘first in family’ university graduates. A new GLO Discussion Paper by GLO Fellow Anna Adamecz-Volgyi and colleagues.

A new GLO Discussion Paper studies how those fare on the labor market whose parents do not have university degrees to find a wage penalty for females but not for males.

GLO Discussion Paper No. 1057, 2022

The labor market returns to ‘first in family’ university graduates  Download PDF
by Adamecz-Völgyi, Anna & Henderson, Morag & Shure, Nikki

GLO Fellow Anna Adamecz-Volgyi

Author Abstract: We examine how first in family (FiF) graduates (those whose parents do not have university degrees) fare on the labor market. We find that among women, FiF graduates earn 7.4% less on average than graduate women whose parents have a university degree. For men, we do not find a FiF wage penalty. A decomposition of the wage difference between FiF and non-FiF graduates reveals two interesting findings. First, two-thirds of the female FiF penalty are explained by certain characteristics, including: having lower attainment in school, attending an elite university, selecting particular degree courses, working in smaller firms, working in jobs that do not require their degree, and motherhood. Second, FiF graduate men also differ in their endowments from non-FiF graduate men; however, FiF men earn higher returns on their endowments than non-FiF men and thus compensate for their relative social disadvantage, while FiF women do not. We also estimate the returns to graduation for potential FiF and non- FiF young people. We find that the wage returns to graduation are not lower among FiF graduates compared to those who match their parents with a degree. The effects of coming from a lower educated family are large and positive for men and large and negative for women in general, irrespective of graduation. We provide some context, offer explanations, and suggest implications of these findings.

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