The three authors are leading economists and scholars in Canada. The study was carried out to examine the evolution of the returns to education in Canada, focusing on young Canadians aged between 16 and 35 years. The purpose of this paper is to develop a critical review of the article.
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The authors attempt to examine the evolution of returns to education as well as experience of the young Canadians aged between 21 and 35 years. In addition, they focused on the evolution of returns to education that took place between 1990 and 2005. The study was conducted across all the Canadian provinces and regions. According to the researchers, the study was done under the motivation of some factors. First, they expect the returns to education to have a profound influence on the schooling decisions made by young people across Canada. Secondly, they note that post-secondary education landscape in Canada is diverse, given the diversity of the programs provided by institutions below the university level.
From an in-depth review of literature on the topic, the researchers found that the existing information provides evidence that the influence of the returns to education on schooling decisions and the education system is profound. However, they found that the existing knowledge has some gaps. For instance, they found that the returns to education among the young adults and its influence on schooling decisions is not well studied, especially due to heterogeneity across education groups as well as geographical regions of the country.
Purpose of the study
The researchers aimed at expanding previous studies that mainly focused on returns to education for the Canadian working-age population. The researchers also aimed at filling the key knowledge gaps identified in the existing information because the returns to education across regions and groups in Canada is complex.
Although not stated in the article, it is clear that the researchers wanted to address the question “what is the degree of change in returns to education in Canada among the young people between 1990 and 2005?”
Again, the researchers have not stated the study hypothesis in the article. Nevertheless, the article argues that the return to education across all education groups and geographical regions in Canada has experienced significant changes since 1990, which has a profound impact on schooling decisions.
The researchers used an empirical study to test the hypothesis. Specifically, the researchers used a quantitative study that focused on descriptive statistics. The main source of data was the Canadian database developed from the national census as well as other studies since 1990. They used a long census questionnaire to collect yearly data, which included approximation of one in every five persons. First, they selected young people aged between 18 and 35 from the national census conducted in 1991, 1996, 2001 and 2006.
A number of variables were used to determine the inclusion criteria. For instance, the researchers used gender, age (not more than 20 years), school attendance, non-aboriginal, nature of residence, province of residence and amount of annual wages.
The researchers also used a standard estimation strategy, which focused on a series of regression-adjusted estimates based on OLS. The return to education was measured with regression of the log of wages for each gender and year of census. Aspects of heterogeneity were measured using the differences in public policies, industries and labor.
Computer based programs such as STATA, SPSS and OLS were used to analyze the data for each census. Regressions were made for genders, level of education, wages and age.
The results indicate that a large gap exists between High School diploma and university degrees across the country. In addition, the gap has little homogeneity in returns to education at high education levels. For degrees lower than the first university level, a high level of heterogeneity was observed. Some industries like energy had a high number of individuals with non-university degrees but the wages were found to be relatively high. Economic activities and social and economic history across the country had a profound impact on the returns to education.
Interpretation of the results
In general, the findings indicate that an increase in the returns to education across all provinces for both genders. However, the increase was particularly higher for women than men.
The researchers concluded that the returns to higher education among the young people have grown significantly since 1990. They also found that the growth of the returns to education for the young people is higher than the rate of growth for the older generations. In addition, they found that the heterogeneity in returns to education across the provinces and gender is relatively high for education levels lower than the first university degree. While the returns to education have increased significantly for both genders, the rate of increase was found to be higher in women than men. Finally, the researchers conclude that the return to education among the young people is a highly evolving phenomenon in Canada.
Overall, the study has attempted to analyze and describe a significantly important and relevant field in the contemporary society. In Canada, schooling decisions are largely influenced by the expected outcomes, especially in terms of labor and wages. Therefore, this study was done for the right purpose.
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Secondly, the researchers have developed a critical and in-depth review of literature relating to the topic. This review has shown an existing gap in knowledge that needs additional studies to fill. The review of literature is commendable.
It is interesting to note that the returns to education are on the increase, despite the current trends in some western countries that show a decline in the phenomenon. In addition, it is interesting to note that the returns to education are higher for women than for men. Moreover, the study shows that the trend will continue increasing in the coming decades.
The authors use a quantitative study to support the hypothesis. This is an important aspect of the study because quantitative studies are an important way of describing and analyzing a phenomenon. The method has a number of strengths. For instance, statistics are important in describing the phenomenon on a wide scale. In this study, the researchers were conducting the study on a national scale, which means that descriptive statistics were the most appropriate form of data. Secondly, statistical analysis of data is important for analyzing a trend over a given period.
For instance, this study was describing the evolution of the phenomenon between 1990 and 2005. It would have been difficult to use a qualitative study for this purpose. The use of control groups (individuals older than the target group) is an important aspect of the study because it increases the validity of the results.
However, the method used has some limitations. For instance, the study relied entirely on national censuses. The results could be biased because statistics are prone to errors. The censuses are also prone to statistical and calculation errors. Moreover, the study attempts to describe the phenomenon across a large geographical area. Thus, the high degree of heterogeneity due to differences in social, cultural, geographical and economic systems across the country has a significant impact on the results.
Nevertheless, the study design has effectively addressed the research question. In addition, the study results are consistent with a number of previous studies. This is an indication that the study was conducted in the right manner.
It is important to note that the study only targeted non-aboriginal groups. Although it has attempted to fill the knowledge gap identified, it did not consider the phenomenon in such groups as aboriginals and foreigners. As such, additional studies are needed to work with these groups.
The article contributes to the existing knowledge in economics, education and public administration. Therefore, it is an important source of data for policy makers in these fields.
Bourbeau, E., Lefebvre, P., & Meriggan, P. (2012). Canadian public policy, 38(4), 531-550. Web.