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Earnings Discrimination and Educational Qualifications - focusing on the earlier decision of the academic field of a worker’s university degree and its impact on discrimination for university graduates.

Project Description

There is a large literature in Economics on earnings discrimination by gender (e.g. Altonji and Blank 1999) and the importance of controlling for a variety of confounding characteristics in obtaining estimates of earnings differentials between men and women. Particularly important in the literature is the need to control for age and educational level, as these explain significant portions of earnings differentials.

More recent research (e.g. Gayle and Golan 2012 who model gender differences in occupational choice and how this impacts earnings differentials) suggests that decisions before entering the labour market can also impact earnings differentials. This PhD would focus on the earlier decision of the academic field of a worker’s university degree and its impact on discrimination for university graduates. Returns are heterogeneous across degree fields and thus gender concentrations in degree fields are likely to play an important role in explaining gender earnings differentials.

The research would primarily use US and UK data (though candidates may use other country datasets if they have information on degree field). In addition to using standard statistical methods of examining earnings differentials, the research is expected to incorporate research on the distributional aspects of earnings differentials (e.g. Sakellariou 2004), gender segregation (e.g. Bender et al. 2005) and occupational differences by gender (e.g. Joy 2006).

The successful candidate will be able to demonstrate thorough training in labour market theory and quantitative skills. Therefore, there is an expectation that the student who undertakes this research would have a first degree in Economics and/or, preferably, a postgraduate taught degree in Economics.

Funding Notes

Applicants interested in this research project should submit a more detailed research proposal (of a maximum of 2000 words)

This project is funded by a University of Aberdeen Elphinstone Scholarship. An Elphinstone Scholarship covers the cost of tuition fees, whether Home, EU or Overseas. Selection will be made on academic merit.


Altonji, J.G. and Blank, R.M., (1999), “Chapter 48: Race and Gender in the Labor Market,” Handbook of Labor Economics, Vol 3C, ed by O. Ashenfelter and D. Card, pp. 3143-259.

Bender, K.A., Donohue, S.M. and Heywood, J.S., (2005), “Job Satisfaction and Gender Segregation,” Oxford Economic Papers, 57(3): 479-96.

Gayle, G.L. and Golan, L. (2012), “Estimating a Dynamic Adverse-Selection Model: Labour-Force Experience and the Changing Gender Earnings Gap 1968-1997,” Review of Economic Studies, 79(1): 227-67.

Joy, L. (2006), “Occupational Differences between Recent Male and Female College Graduates,” Economics of Education Review, 25(2): 221-31.

Sakellariou, C., (2004), “Gender-Earnings Differentials using Quantile Regressions,” Journal of Labor Research, 25(3): 457-68.

Related Subjects

How good is research at Aberdeen University in Business and Management Studies?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 13.30

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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