Ruhr Economic Papers

Ruhr Economic Papers #377

Reaching High: Occupational Sorting and Higher Education Wage Inequality in the UK

by Jan Kleibrink and Maren M. Michaelsen

RUB, 10/2012, 19 S./p., 8 Euro, ISBN 978-3-86788-432-7 DOI: 10.4419/86788432



We analyse wage differentials between Higher Education graduates in the UK, differentiating between polytechnic and university graduates. Polytechnic graduates earned on average lower wages than university graduates prior to the UK Further and Higher Education Act of 1992. The reform changed the system of Higher Education by giving all polytechnics university status. We show that wage differentials can be explained by a glass ceiling which prevented polytechnic graduates from reaching managerial and professional occupations. After the reform, they overtook graduates of traditional universities in terms of average wages.

JEL-Classification: I23, I24, J24, J31

Keywords: Higher education; wage differentials; occupational sorting; glass ceiling; United Kingdom