A good career or a good marriage: The returns of higher education in France


Following human capital theory, investment in education generates two kinds of returns: labour market returns and marriage market returns. Based on a dynamic microsimulation model, this article proposes a decomposition of these two effects for France and discusses the financial incentives of enrolling in higher education. Results show that the incentives stemming from the marriage market are negligible for men. By contrast, for women, the marriage market effect corresponds to almost 1/3 of the median return of higher education. Moreover, the marriage market does play an insurance role concerning the returns on tertiary education. It increases the risk of not capitalizing on higher education for both men and women, because marriage adds the uncertainty of the partner's career to the uncertainty of an individual's career. However, the risks relating to the value of this education investment remain higher for women. Overall, the results in this paper provide evidence for the fact that a family-oriented public policy may affect the educational choices for women.

Publication type: 
Scientific Article
Date de parution: 
Economic Modelling