Estimating the private non-financial benefits of higher education: Cross-sectional models

Research output: Working paper


This paper presents a series of models which seek to estimate the non-financial private benefits that individuals receive from higher education. At this stage, the data used in this analysis is cross-sectional only, and is mainly taken from wave 19 of the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey (two variables - Financial confidence and Field of Education history – are taken from wave 16). Previous research has generally shown that more highly educated people tend to do better on a range of health and social outcomes. In terms of non-employment related outcomes, the current analysis confirms that positive impacts can be observed on levels of self-perceived health status, BMI, psychological well-being, community relationships, levels of volunteering and levels of financial confidence, although these effects are mediated by a range of factors including age and competing employment, time and resource constraints. It is also interesting that overall, higher education graduates do not experience greater life satisfaction than non-graduates, and this result is consistent across all age groups. In terms of employment related outcomes, of the variables tested, few have positive, significant results including job satisfaction, job security satisfaction and pay satisfaction. Again, these findings accord with much of the literature on these aspects. The individual benefits of higher education can be set against the backdrop of the relative cost to gain higher education qualifications (including HELP repayment implications) as well as the associated market benefits that flow from higher education attainment.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages20
Publication statusUnpublished - 30 Jun 2022


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