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Home Publications What and where you study matter for graduate earnings – but so does parents’ income

What and where you study matter for graduate earnings – but so does parents’ income

Press release

Graduates from richer family backgrounds earn significantly more after graduation than their poorer counterparts, even after completing the same degrees from the same universities. This is one of many findings in new research published today which looks at the link between earnings and students’ background, degree subject and university attended.

The research used anonymised tax data and student loan records for 260,000 students up to ten years after graduation. This is the first time a ‘big data’ approach has been used to look at how graduate earnings vary by institution of study, degree subject and parental income. The data set includes cohorts of graduates who started university in the period 1998–2011 and whose earnings (or lack of earnings) are then observed over a number of tax years. In the paper, we largely focus on the tax year 2012/13.

Funded by the Nuffield Foundation, this work was carried out by researchers at the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), UCL Institute of Education, Harvard University and the University of Cambridge. The full working paper is available here and we also have an accompanying executive summary.

Find out more

Report summary
This Executive Summary accompanies a new IFS working paper which uses administrative data to measure how the earnings of English graduates around 10 years into the labour market vary with gender, institution attended, subject and socioeconomic background.
Book
This book examines how family background determines university success, analyses who goes to university, who does best at university once they are there, and who succeeds in the labour market following graduation, and looks at the impact of the 2006 and 2012 tuition fee increases.
IFS Working Paper W16/06
This paper uses tax and student loan administrative data to measure how the earnings of English graduates around 10 years into the labour market vary with gender, institution attended, subject and socioeconomic background.