The purpose of this paper is to study the gender specific private returns on education (RE) in Europe in a comparative perspective. The authors extend the model of de la Fuente (2003) by estimating the parameters by gender and introducing maternity leaves and benefits. The paper analyses the impact of the public policy variables evaluating the elasticities with respect to unemployment benefits, marginal and average tax rates, maternity leave and childcare benefits.
The authors estimate the Mincerian coefficients, with the Heckman’ selection model, for 12 West European countries using the EU-SILC data. The authors then use them as input to calibrate the decision model.
The RE of females tend to be higher than those of males in all the Europeans countries but Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden. The gender gap can be explained mainly by the wage premia and labour income taxes which more than compensate the negative effects on females’ returns triggered by higher unemployment rates and maternity-related benefits.
The tax system has the most pronounced effect on RE. An increase in the marginal tax rates has a negative impact. An increase in the average tax rates can have a negative or positive impact, depending on the progressivity of the tax system. An increase in unemployment benefits and maternity or child-care benefits has a negative but fairly small impact.
The analysis considers just one dimension of maternity related policies: the effect on RE and differences across gender. These policies may have aims which are beyond the scope of this paper, for instance to increase fertility. From this viewpoint, the small values of the elasticities presented are reassuring in that they suggest that they can be implemented at a fairly small cost in terms of investment in human capital.
The authors compute the RE using a model which allows us to take into account and assess the significance of relevant variables: wage premium, income tax, some public transfers and benefits, costs of the investments. Moreover, the authors estimate the wage premia using relatively recent EU-SILC data. Finally, the paper compares 12 EU countries spanning quite different labour market conditions and institutions.
The authors wish to thank S. Black, M. Belot, S. Capuano, B. Cockx, D. de la Croix, G. Heineck, J. Ludsteck, N. Nisic, T. Pietra, V. Vandenberghe, P. Vitale, F. Yaman, and participants in the seminars held at the IAB, Universities of Bologna, Lille 2 and IRES-UCL for their helpful comments. The authors would also like to thank S. Bähr for his research assistance. The responsibility for any remaining mistakes is the authors’ own.
Mendolicchio, C. and Rhein, T. (2014), "The gender gap of returns on education across West European countries", International Journal of Manpower, Vol. 35 No. 3, pp. 219-249. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJM-02-2013-0026Download as .RIS
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