Study: Grads of Elite Colleges Earn 21 Percent More, Provided They Are Men

Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
Feb 16, 2017
Pay Gap

A recent study has found that graduating from a top-tier college does indeed affect your earnings potential later in life, so long as you're a man. On the other hand, women who graduated from an elite institution earn about as much as men who graduated from bottom-tier schools, according to New York Magazine. The study, which appeared in the most recent issue of Social Science Research looked at about 8,500 bachelor's degree holders who were interviewed either four or ten years after graduation on, among other things, how much money they now make. 

What they found was that people who graduated from top schools earned 11 percent more than those who went to second-tier schools, and 21 percent more than those from the lowest-ranked schools, indicating that where someone went to school is actually pretty important for future earnings potential. 

Unless you're a woman.

In that case the data found that women from elite colleges make about as much as men from bottom-tier schools. In the cohort interviewed ten years after graduation, women from the most selective colleges earned an average of $62,210, while men from the least selective schools earned $63,923. In the cohort interviewed four years after graduation, it was found that women with degrees from most or highly selective colleges earned $52,293, while men from the lowest selectivity schools averaged about $55,346. In general, according to the study, women from elite colleges earned about 16 percent less than men from both elite and bottom-tier colleges. 

"We find large earnings payoffs from attending a highly selective college both four and ten years after graduation. However, those returns are uneven: full-time working women graduates earn a lot less than their male counterparts from equivalent colleges, college majors pay differently, and family background also affects earnings over and above one’s college’s selectivity. Nevertheless, earnings differences attributable to college selectivity are striking," said the study abstract. 

Click here to see more of the latest news from the NYSSCPA.