Students have more debt, higher income: Statcan

22Apr09

Statistics Canada today released a report entitled Graduating in Canada: Profile, Labour Market Outcomes and Student Debt of the Class of 2005, which looks at the experience of post-secondary graduates as they emerge into the workforce.

Among its conclusions were several interesting passages, presented and annotated after the jump in the order they were published in the report. All emphasis is mine.

Females from the Class of 2005 made up the majority of graduates at the college, bachelor and master levels and their proportion increased slightly across all levels except for the master level compared to the Class of 2000. Males continued to dominate in historically male-dominated fields of study such as Mathematics, computer and information sciences and Architecture, engineering and related technologies. Conversely, the proportions of females in traditionally female-dominated fields such as Nursing and Social and behavioural sciences have increased.

There are no real surprises there. Men and women are still studying what trends suggest they have historically studied. But what is noteworthy is that women continue to represent the majority of post-secondary students, and that trend is only strengthening.

On to the next passage:

Labour market outcomes of graduates within fields of study, in terms of earnings and employment, improved as educational attainment rose. Furthermore, compared to 2000 graduates, 2005 graduates had higher earnings (in constant dollars). These higher earnings may suggest that 2005 graduates working full-time in 2007 had better labour market matches to their credentials, or that the wages paid in jobs available to individuals with a post-secondary credential rose since 2002. Despite higher earnings among 2005 graduates, there remained a gender earnings gap. Additionally, the distribution of earnings varied greatly across fields of study.

So, graduates from 2005 are making more than their counterparts in 2000 based on a couple of possible factors. I guess that’s good news for them, on balance. What is concerning is that the historical gender earnings gap still exists.

According to the numbers:

The median income of women with bachelor’s degrees is 84 per cent of the median income of men with the same level of education.

The median income of women with a master’s degree is 90 per cent of the median income of men with the same level of education.

The median income of women with a doctoral degree is 89 per cent of the median income of men with the same level of education.

I remember reading for a university seminar or two that the earnings gap in Canada was around 73 cents on the dollar. So these numbers are encouraging, I suppose, but hardly surprising. Women with higher educational experience are probably paid better than women without the same experience and are also paid more relative to their male counterparts in the workplace.

But this study doesn’t look at lower-income women (or men), and the overall gender earnings gap would likely be pretty discouraging.

On to the next passage.

Students financed their education in diverse ways. About half of the 2005 graduates relied on either government or non-government student loans.

This is a disputed number in student lobbying circles. Many argue that the number is higher. Those who believe it is around 50 per cent often argue that tuition freezes are ineffective policy. Instead of giving a break to students who don’t need it, the argument goes, government should instead target that funding to even more low-income students who can’t afford tuition even at frozen levels.

Anyways, that Statistics Canada found that 50 per cent of students don’t have to pay back loans should add fuel to that debate.

On to the next passage:

graduates of 2005 who owed only to non-government sources had higher average debt levels compared to graduates of 2000. The opposite was true for those owing to government sources only: they had lower average debt levels compared to graduates of 2000. More importantly, graduates had higher average debt if they owed to both sources.

And a lot of people owe money to both sources. That definitely deserves the attention of policy-makers.

On to the next passage:

… at the bachelor level, graduates in Humanities had an average government debt load of just under $20,000, median earnings of $36,000 and a full-time employment rate of 75%. In contrast, graduates in Architecture, engineering and related technologies had an average government debt load of around $15,000, median earnings of $58,300 dollars and a full-time employment rate of 93%.

a) That’s a lot of debt on average, no matter the field of study
b) As it turns out, non-humanities grads are more employable
c) I am proof of b)

There is more coverage of this report here.
This student lobby group is unhappy.

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2 Responses to “Students have more debt, higher income: Statcan”

  1. Good analysis, NickTV. Now I don’t have to bother to read the report, right?

  2. Correct. The analysis buck stops here.


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