Degrees lead to significantly higher earnings, says ONS

University leavers tend to take home a significantly higher pay package than non-graduates, a study by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has shown.

The organisation revealed that individuals with degrees saw their salaries increase faster each year and for a longer period of time over the past decade, with the gap between the two demographics averaging £12,000.

Jamie Jenkins, an ONS statistician, said to The BBC: “This research shows there is a big difference between average earnings for graduates and non-graduates. We also see a big difference between them by age, with graduates’ earnings not peaking until they are in their early 50s.”

The ONS noted that people’s salaries at 22 years old tended to be very similar – around £15,000 – whether they had a degree or not. But after this age the average wage for graduates up to the age of 64 was £30,000, whereas this figure is just £18,000 for non-graduates. This headline figure offered no distinction between jobs in London and positions in areas where the cost of living is lower.

It went on to show that the average peak wage for university leavers was £34,500 at 51 years old, while their counterparts who chose not to study a higher education course on average peaked at 34, earning £19,400.

The organisation had better news for working mothers at the end of last month, publishing the results of a study demonstrating that the gap in employment rates between women with and without children has fallen drastically over the past 15 years.

In 1996, the difference was 5.8 percentage points, but this figure dropped to just 0.8 percentage points in the final three months of 2010.

by Paul Smithson on April 7, 2011

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