Analysis of graduate income data 2002-2007 by broad field of study

Analysis of Graduate Income Data 2002-2007 (pdf)
01 Mar 2010

A working paper prepared by the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, March 2010.


The purpose of this paper is to analyse the differences in incomes between men and women leaving tertiary education and entering the workforce. The analysis uses data from the Student Loans and Allowances Integrated data set. This data set links income data from Inland Revenue to individuals through their student loan number. The analysis therefore only includes those students entering employment who also had a student loan. The uptake of student loans throughout the period analysed varied from 72-82 percent for full time students. The income data is linked to the student’s field of study so we are able to look at differences in income by field of study after one and five years in the labour market.

Key Results

  • Women continue to graduate in increasing numbers and 62 percent of all bachelors’ graduates in 2006 were women. While women remained dominant in the fields of teaching and nursing they also outnumbered men in business and management, sales and marketing, and law, the top fields of graduation for men in 2006.
  • The least preferred fields of study for women were engineering and related technologies, and information technology where men outnumbered women by five to one and four to one respectively.
  • One year after entering employment the average income gap between men and women with a bachelor’s qualification or above was around 6 percent, after five years (2002 -2006) the average income gap had increased to 17 percent. While these figures mask significant variations across fields of study, it is a notable gap that warrants further examination.
  • There was a significant premium for women attached to gaining a bachelor’s level or above qualification with income premiums 20 to 47 percent higher after five years.
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