A C.D. Howe Institute from this year study reports that a post-secondary education is a great investment for Canadian students and for the Canadian government, despite a troubled economy that threatens the job market for degree holders. By assessing data from the long-term census form from the years 1981 to 2006, authors Boothby and Drewes discovered many promising facts and argue that an undergraduate degree isn’t a waste of time, but intrinsically valuable.

The study finds that female university graduates earn on average a whopping 60 percent more than female high-school graduates (2005). The earnings premium – how much more money, on average, that post-secondary graduates earn compared to high-school graduates – for an undergraduate is higher for women than men but college diploma holders between the sexes is find their earnings to be fairly level.

The study also acknowledged an unsurprising hierarchy within the educational system, meaning university students were paid the most, followed by college students next and trade school graduates last. But a graduate’s degree or diploma from any one of these three schools ensures higher earning premiums, as men with trade certificates earned 12 percent more on average than other males with high-school diplomas only. Unfortunately, the study found that females with trade schooling tended to get no significant return compared to female high school diploma holders.

Among countries belonging to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the authors note that Canada has the highest percentage of post-secondary graduates between the ages of 25-64, mostly due to having a large number of non-university post-secondary graduates from colleges and trade schools.

To view the full study, visit http://www.cdhowe.org/pdf/ebrief_104.pdf.

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