The most valuable degree you can do is economics, and the least valuable is health and social care.
At least according to the latest research by the IFS on the impact of Higher Education on future earnings.
The table below compares earnings at age 29 of female graduates compared to non graduates for different subject areas.
As you can see, female economics graduates earn 150% more than non graduates, with medicine not far behind and most of the rest of the STEM subject graduates earning 100% more.
Meanwhile at the other end of the scale social care and create arts degree graduates only earn about 20-25% more than non-graduates, making these degrees a lot less valuable in terms of purely financial returns.
The significance of these statistics
Fair enough I guess that medicine yields a decent return, I don’t think there’s much scope to criticise that, and given the innovation within science and engineering, the fact that these degrees result in 100% higher earnings at age 29 isn’t surprising either.
HOWEVER, I have a problem with economics graduates earning so much more. It’s very unlikely that these people are earning so much money because of the social good they are doing. It’s probably more likely that they’re sucking money upwards to the already rich working for corporations and hedge funds, or doing crude econometric (read ‘guess work’) analysis for large institutions like the World Bank. They’re reward is probably making the rich richer, or at least keeping them rich.
Meanwhile down at the bottom, I’m not so sure whether the low return on the caring degrees shows how little we value this qualitative side of life, rather than the fact that degrees in such subjects maybe can’t teach you that much?!? I mean with caring, how much is there that you can’t learn on the job, honestly, or just learn at level 3.
Don’t get me wrong though, I think caring professions are very much underpaid.
As to creative arts… I’m not sure whether these are undervalued, difficult for me to say with any level of objectivity, although if these stats are anything to go by, it shows us that ‘society’ doesn’t value art very highly!
NB – The figures for men are a little different, check out the above study if yer interested!