Going to uni 'better for women than for men'

Going to uni makes a much bigger difference to earnings for women than it does for men, new research has found.

Women in England with degrees earn a little over three times more than women without degrees a decade after graduating, whereas male graduates only earn around twice as much as men without degrees.

The study from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), the University of Cambridge and Harvard University also found that the pay gap between men and women is less pronounced between men and women who have degrees.

Male graduates currently earn around 23% more than female graduates 10 years on, smaller than the average gap between men and women overall, which is around 33% according to the Labour Force Survey.


Men's salaries ten years after graduating

10% of male graduates earn more than £55,000 per annum, 5% were earning more than £73,000 and 1% were earning more than £148,000.

Women's salaries ten years after graduating

10% of female graduates earn more than £43,000 per annum, 5% were earning more than £73,000 and 1% were earning more than £89,000.


The study used tax and student loan data from 260,000 people who were at university between 1998 and 2011.

Degree helped during recession, but women's earnings took more of a hit

The report revealed that women's earnings took a bigger hit during the recession than men's:

“Female graduates in their late 20s saw their real earnings decline just as, in normal times, they would have expected rapid earnings growth as they gained experience."

“The study shows that the recession had a large impact on the earnings of people in their twenties and early thirties. This is particularly true for women, who experienced much lower earnings than previous cohorts."

Jack Britton, a research economist at the IFS and an author of the paper, said:

“This study shows the value of a degree, in terms of providing protection from low income and shielding graduates from some of the negative impact of the recent recession on their wages. We find this to be particularly true for women.”

Overall pay gap

Whilst the study found that having a degree mitigated the effects of the gender pay gap, there was still a large gap between the earnings of men and women, whether you have a degree or not.

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