Data Check: Higher education brings security, higher wages, especially for men

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Almost without exception, unemployment rates in countries across the OECD rose during the “Great Recession”, no matter the education level. But while still high, unemployment rates — and the amount they rose — were lower for those with college and university education.

The percentage of people with higher education who are employed tends to be highest in the Scandinavian countries, the Netherlands, and Switzerland – around 90 per cent. For those with a university education, employment rates across Canada and in Ontario (82 per cent for both) are below the OECD average of 85 per cent, () but still above the rate for those with college credentials — and well above the rates for those with high school or non-postsecondary qualifications.

The relative earnings of those with a university education in Canada and Ontario are higher than the OECD average, but the degree of difference varies by age and gender. Compared to other young women in Ontario, for example, university-educated women have higher relative earnings than the OECD average for the same group. The reverse is true for Ontario women between 55 and 64.

Across the OECD, the relative earnings for men and women between 55 and 64 are virtually the same. In Ontario, the apparent value of a university education is much greater for men than for women: compared to their male counterparts with high school or non-postsecondary qualifications, men with higher education earn 150 per cent more, while women have a 68 per cent earnings edge. And women with higher education still earn only 61 per cent of what men with a comparable education make.

Source:Statistics Canada, Education Indicators in Canada: An International Perspective 2011 (; OECD, Education at a Glance 2011: OECD indicators (,3746,en_2649_37455_48634114_1_1_1_37455,00.html)

This article originally appeared in the OCUFA Report. To receive stories like this every week in your inbox, please subscribe.

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