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Faculty of Economics

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Boneva, T., Golin, M. and Rauh, C.

Can Perceived Returns Explain Enrollment Gaps in Postgraduate Education?

Labour Economics


Abstract: To understand students’ motives in obtaining postgraduate qualifications, we elicit intentions to pursue postgraduate education and beliefs about its returns in a sample of 1002 university students. We find large gaps in perceptions about the 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 can account for 70% of the socioeconomic gaps in intentions to pursue postgraduate studies. We 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

JEL Codes: I24, I26, J13, J24 ,J62

Author links: Christopher Rauh  

Publisher's Link:

Cambridge Working Paper in Economics Version of Paper: Can Perceived Returns Explain Enrollment Gaps in Postgraduate Education?, Boneva, T., Golin, M. and Rauh, C. , (2021)

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