Report: Wage Increases From Associate’s and Certificates

Posted by Columbia University on April 24, 2017

Report: Wage Increases From Associate’s and Certificates Persist, but Vary

By Bill DeBaun, Director of Data and Evaluation, NCAN

The relationship between education and wages is a timeless economic question for which we have a robust research base whose consensus is that more education leads to higher wages. One area where there is relatively less evidence is for the connection between wages and sub-baccalaureate degrees and certificates. Clive Belfield and Thomas Bailey, on behalf of the Center for Analysis of Postsecondary Education and Employment (CAPSEE), are out with a new working paper that finds evidence of earnings increases for completers of both associate’s degrees and certificates. These results are heterogeneous (read: they vary) according to state and field of study, and suggest that earnings increases persist even despite broader economic conditions.

Across studies from eight states (Arkansas, California, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, and Washington), the average quarterly earnings increase attributable to completing an associate’s degree — compared to enrolling but not completing — was $1,160 ($4,640 annually) for men, and $1,790 ($7,160) for women. For certificate earners, the quarterly increase was $530 or $2,120 annually for men and $740 or $2,960 annually for women.

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