David is a professor in the Vancouver School of Economics at the University of British Columbia and an International Research Fellow of the IFS. His research interests centre around determinants of the wage and employment structure. In his recent work, this has entailed bridging between macro labour (worrying about general equilibrium effects) and micro labour identification issues.
The UK higher education sector has expanded remarkably over the past three decades. In 1993, 13% of 25- to 29-year-olds had first degrees or higher degrees. By 2015, this had roughly tripled to 41%. Naturally, one may wonder whether the big expansion has reduced the economic returns to having a first degree. We have all heard stories about graduate unemployment and graduates employed in low-wage jobs. But what do the data show and what can we learn from history?