The Relationship Between Work During College and Post College Earnings

Daniel Douglas and Paul Attewell. Frontiers of Sociology (10 December 2019)



Prior research suggests that undergraduates employed during term time are less likely to graduate. Using transcript data from a large multi-campus university in the United States, combined with student earnings data from state administrative records, the authors find that traditional-age students who worked for pay during college on average earned more after leaving college than similar students who did not work. This post-college earnings premium is on par with the benefit from completing a degree, even after controlling for demographic and academic achievement characteristics, across various student sub-groups, and including models that account for selection bias. Implications of these findings for theories of education and social stratification, and for educational policy are considered.

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