The Grattan Institute’s latest report finds younger women with a university degree still earn almost $14,000 a year more on average than younger women who finished their education at year 12.
And younger men with a university degree still earn more than $12,500 a year more on average than younger men who completed high school.
This premium has fallen only slightly – by 8 per cent for women and 6 per cent for men over ten years – despite the significant expansion of access to higher education over the decade to 2016.
Universities Australia Chief Executive Catriona Jackson said the data confirmed there was an enduring earnings premium for younger Australians who pursued a university education.
“Even in an era of wider participation at university, a sizeable wage benefit still exists for the generation of younger graduates who got a degree as more of their peers got one too,” she said.
“While there has been a slight decline in the size of that advantage over a decade, that advantage is still pretty significant. Graduates continue to earn higher wages both over their lifetimes and in the first decade of their career after graduation.”
University graduates are two and a half times less likely to be jobless than people who finished their education at high school, 2016 Census data confirms.
The Grattan Institute report shows an increase in the share of younger female graduates with children who are in the workforce compared to ten years ago – partly due to wider access to maternity leave since 2009.
As a result, the gender pay gap between the median-earning male and female graduates also narrowed slightly over the decade. However, women still get paid 27 per cent less, down from 30 per cent in 2006.