An empirical analysis of university choice and earnings

Hessel Oosterbeek*, Wim Groot, Joop Hartog

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


In this paper we analyze the relations between university choice and earnings. We estimate a model in which a choice function determines the decision to apply to a particular university and thereby the switch to a particular wage regime. The wage structures of the options in turn determine the lifetime earnings prospects associated with those options, and these prospective earnings influence university choice. The results reveal some notable differences between the wage structures of graduates from different universities. In the choice function we find that graduates from different universities differ with respect to social background, gender and the motives that they consider important in choosing a department. A test on the possibility of pooling alternatives establishes heterogeneity of departments. Finally, we find that earnings prospects are not a particularly important factor in the choice of a specific university.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)293-309
Number of pages17
JournalDe Economist
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 1992
Externally publishedYes

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