Returns to education have received much attention from scholars as well as policy makers and the media. It is a well-established fact that educational attainment improves employability and wages and that university graduates better than their less educated counterparts. However, the educational expansion rises the importance of the horizontal dimension in explaining social stratification. The field of study has proved to be an important factor for graduates’ labor market performance in many countries. This paper discusses the differences in the labor market outcomes in early careers of graduates of various disciplines in Poland where the topic has been hotly debated for many years but remained under researched. We use data from the second measurement of the recently established Polish National Graduate Tracking System (ELA). The system uses administrative data exported from the national register of students and graduates as well as monthly records on employment status and earnings fetched from the Social Insurance Institution registers. The data cover entire population of recent higher education graduates in Poland and enables tracking for twenty-one months after graduation. We focus particularly on the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics which are presumed to lead to the best labor market positions. We demonstrate that, contrary to popular opinion, only some of the STEM disciplines give their graduates an edge on the labor market while the rest struggle to achieve results comparable with those of graduates of Humanities and Social Sciences.
November 13, 2017
Research and Occasional Papers Series (ROPS)