Research in Higher Education

, Volume 49, Issue 3, pp 199-213

First online:

The Way to Wealth and the Way to Leisure: The Impact of College Education on Graduates’ Earnings and Hours of Work

  • Liang ZhangAffiliated withDepartment of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations, Vanderbilt University Email author 

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This study extends the analysis of the economic return of college education up to 10 years after college education and further examines the impact of college education on graduates’ hours of work. The results suggest that variation in hours of work explains a portion of earnings differentials among college graduates. Graduates from high-quality private institutions tend to work longer hours than their peers from other types of institutions. Female graduates spend fewer hours working than their male counterparts. As far as family background is concerned, graduates from high-income families tend to work longer hours and first-generation college graduates tend to work fewer hours. Finally, business majors seem to work longer hours while health and public affair majors less hours.


Earnings Hours of work Undergraduate majors College quality