Typically, students are assumed to decide on their optimal investment in education by weighing the costs arising from the acquisition of education with the expected benefit in terms of wages, in other words, by assessing the expected return to education. European school systems differ among other things in the extent of pupil differentiation by ability levels, in the importance of vocational relative to general education as well as in the systems of public funding and financial support for education. Such differences are expected to have repercussions on educational choices of youngsters, on the one hand, and on the return to education, on the other hand. The main objective of this project is to assess the impact of differences in the education systems on individual labour market outcome in terms of level and dispersion of returns to education. The project involves 15 European countries and addresses in particular the following issues:

  • Comparative analysis of the wage and the qualification structures
  • Differentiated estimation of the returns to education and their developments since the mid-1980s
  • Analysis of the impact of different systems of education and public funding on the individual labour market outcome in terms of returns to education and earnings inequality

Selected Publications

Monographs, Contributions to Edited Volumes

Lauer, Charlotte (2001), The determinants of participation in higher education, in: Asplund R. B Series, LLL:citation.label.volume 183, ETLA, Helsinki, 151-188.

Lauer, Charlotte and Viktor Steiner (2001), Germany, in: Harmon C., Walker I., Westergaard-Nielsen N. Edward Elgar, Edward Elgar, Cheltenham (UK), 102-128.

Lauer, Charlotte and Viktor Steiner (1999), Returns to Human Capital in Germany: Review of the Empirical Literature, in: Asplund R., Pereira P.T. B Series, LLL:citation.label.volume 156 , ETLA, Helsinki, 125-146.


Europäische Kommission (Targeted Socio-Economic Research) , Brüssel , BE

Project duration

01.11.1998 - 31.10.2000

Project members

Prof. Dr. Viktor Steiner (Coordinator)
Dr. Charlotte Lauer

Cooperation partner

Dr. Mahmood Arai, National Institute of Economic Research, Stockholm University, Stockholm, SE
Dr. Rita Asplund, The Research Institute of the Finnish Economy, Helsinki, FI
Prof. Josep Luis Eaymond Bara, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Barcelona, ES
Dr. Erling Barth, Institute for Social Research, Oslo, NO
Prof. Giorgio Brunello, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei, Mailand, IT
Dr. Colm Harmon, University College Dublin, Dublin, IE
Prof. Joop Hartog, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, NL
Dr. Joop Odink, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, NL
Prof. Pedro Telhado Pereira, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Lissabon, PT
Dr. Ali Skalli, Université Panthéon-Assas Paris II, Paris, FR
Prof. Panos Tsakloglou, Center for Economic Research and Environmental Strategy, Athen, GR
Prof. Ian Walker, Keele University, Keele, UK
Prof. Niels Westergard-Nielsen, Centre for Labour Market and Social Research, Aarhus, DK
Prof. Dr. Rudolf Winter-Ebmer, Johannes Kepler Universität Linz, Institut für Volkswirtschaftslehre, Linz, AT
Dr. Josef Zweimüller, Institut für Empirische Wirtschaftsforschung (IEW), Universität Zürich, Zürich, CH