BLANC - Blanc


Submission summary

In France, only a few studies have addressed the returns-to-education question. Moreover, no systematic econometric study has been conducted to analyse the returns-to-education in the French higher-education system, and, a fortiori, neither in its fundamental dimension of individual choice of disciplines and institutions (i.e; vocational vs. academic, Université vs. Grandes Ecoles), nor in a risk-return, human-capital investment perspective, paying attention to links with the current debate on higher-education funding. Students from the same discipline and/or holding the same degree do not have the same expected returns to education in terms of earnings or employment and unemployment perspectives. This undoubtedly constitutes a specific risk, faced by high-school graduates (i.e. bacheliers), that, until now, did not receive sufficient attention in France (and elsewhere). We intend to contribute to this area of research with the use of up-to-date econometric methods, applied to various rich French micro-data sets on education. We propose to pay special attention to the selection, or self-selection, of French high-school graduates into the various courses of study (i.e., disciplines and institutions) and to the corresponding expected risks and returns. We also intend to analyse some implications for individual human-capital investment decisions of students in higher education, and subsequently, to draw some conclusions in terms of public-policy: can we design a viable, publicly-regulated student-loan and grant system? What would be the incentives generated by well-designed student loans and grants, as well as its public-finance aspects (costs, rules, organization). We also propose to re-examine these questions, in the recent historical context (say the last twenty years), with a special attention paid to the risks of unemployment that could have resulted in inequalities between students of the same field or discipline, as well as between students belonging to different higher-education tracks (or institutions). We will try to provide a numerical assessment of the extent of 'diploma devaluation'.

Project coordinator


The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.



Help of the ANR 70,000 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: November 2007 - 36 Months

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