Education & Skills TodayTertiary education has seen spectacular growth since the beginning of the 21st century: on average across OECD countries, 43% of 25-34 year-olds had a tertiary degree in 2016, compared to 26% in 2000. In Canada and Korea, more than 60% of young adults now hold this level of qualification. This marked increase has largely been fueled by the promise of favourable job prospects: better employment opportunities, career progression, and higher earnings have led many to believe that higher education is the best road for a brighter future. But as the number of tertiary graduates increases each year, is having a degree still a competitive advantage?
This month’s Education Indicators in Focus brief investigates the earnings advantage that tertiary-educated workers have over their upper-secondary peers, and how earnings advantage has evolved over generations. On average across OECD countries, the earnings premium associated with higher education for 55-64 year-olds, 70%, is twice that of younger adults, at just 35%. However, although educational attainment increased similarly across both age groups in the past decade, the earnings advantage of young adults with a tertiary degree declined or remained stable, whereas the older generation benefited from a higher premium in many countries. More...