Measuring the earnings returns to accredited adult learning in the UK

Blanden, Jo, Buscha, Franz, Sturgis, Patrick J. and Urwin, Peter (2012) Measuring the earnings returns to accredited adult learning in the UK Economics of Education Review, 31, (4), pp. 501-514. (doi:10.1016/j.econedurev.2011.12.009).


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This paper examines the earnings returns to learning that takes place following the conventional 'school-to-work' stage of the life-course. We operationalise such 'lifelong learning' as the attainment of certified qualifications in adulthood, following the completion of the first period of continuous full-time education. Using data from the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS) for the period 1991-2006, our approach and findings represent an important addition to the existing evidence base. By using annual data, we are able to employ the fixed effects estimator, which eliminates the problem of time-invariant unobserved heterogeneity. Our dynamic specification uses a lag structure to consider how earnings returns evolve in the medium and longer run, while also controlling for wage trends which were evident prior to qualification attainment. Our results show a medium-run return for women of 10% on hourly wages. For men, initial suggestions of a similar positive return are eliminated once pre-qualification trends are taken into account. This suggests that adult learning has a causal effect on women's subsequent earnings but, for men, any apparent gain is due to selection.

Item Type: Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi:10.1016/j.econedurev.2011.12.009
ISSNs: 0272-7757 (print)
Keywords: adult learning, earnings, qualifications
Organisations: Social Statistics & Demography
ePrint ID: 208125
Date :
Date Event
August 2012Published
Date Deposited: 19 Jan 2012 12:15
Last Modified: 18 Apr 2017 00:34
Further Information:Google Scholar

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