Cross-program Differences in Returns to Education and the Gender Earnings Gap

Steffen Andersen, Philippe d’Astous, Jimmy Martínez-Correa, Stephen H. Shore

Publikation: Working paperForskning


University programs differ in their gender earnings gaps, that is, the difference between the subsequent earnings of the program’s male and female enrollees. A program could have a positive gender earnings gap because it attracts higher-ability men than women (a selection effect) or because it increases the earnings of male enrollees more than female enrollees (a causal effect). To understand the source of cross-program differences in gender earnings gaps, we estimate the returns for men and women entering programs with different gender earnings gaps. We exploit a discontinuity built into the Danish national university admissions system, which provides a quasi-random assignment of similar applicants to different programs. We compare students assigned across this discontinuity to programs with low- to high-earning enrollees and to programs with small to large gender earnings gaps. Enrolling in a program whose enrollees earn $1 more leads to a $0.28 increase in earnings. Enrolling in a program with a $1 larger gender earnings gap, holding average earnings constant, has no effect on male earnings but reduces female earnings by $0.42. This effect is small when women enter the labor market but increases over time. Our results show that programs that appear worse for women – in the sense of having large gender earnings gaps – are worse for women in that these programs
reduce female earnings more than programs with smaller gaps.
UdgivelsesstedAtlanta, GA
UdgiverCEAR, Georgia State University
Antal sider64
StatusUdgivet - 2020
NavnWorking paper / Center for Economic Analysis of Risk (CEAR)