Teodora Boneva, Marta Golin, Christopher Rauh

Postgraduate-degree holders comprise a significant share of the workforce and have better labor-market outcomes than workers who only hold a first degree. To understand students' motives to obtain postgraduate qualifications and what drives socioeconomic gaps in this decision, we elicit intentions to pursue postgraduate education and beliefs about its returns in a sample of 1,002 enrolled university students. We document large gaps in perceptions about different immediate and later-life benefits of postgraduate education, both between first- and continuing-generation students and within the latter group. Differences in student beliefs about returns across socioeconomic groups can account for 70% of the gaps in intentions to pursue postgraduate studies. We also document large differences in students' current undergraduate experiences by socioeconomic background and find these to be predictive of perceived returns to postgraduate education. 

JEL Codes  
I24: Education and Inequality
I26: Returns to Education
J13: Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
J24: Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
J62: Job, Occupational, and Intergenerational Mobility; Promotion
higher education
socioeconomic inequality
intergenerational mobility
postgraduate education