Finnish masters lose large pay boon

May 19, 2006

A masters degree no longer guarantees a fat pay packet, according to research conducted by the Finnish National Fund for Research and Development.

The proportion of Finns with a masters has increased rapidly over the past decade or so, but their income has not risen significantly.

"The salary advantage of people with masters degrees in relation to those with lower level qualifications has diminished," said Rita Asplund, research director at the Institute of the Finnish Economy.

An additional factor that has contributed to the erosion of the graduates'

pay advantage is the fact that women now constitute the biggest section of highly educated people in the workforce.

Data published by the Finnish Statistical bureau show that, in 2004-05, 54 per cent of students studying for a degree were women, 72 per cent of whom were studying for a masters degree. In 2005-06, 57 per cent of the first-year intake was female.

Finnish women tend to opt for jobs in administration, teaching and in the health service where salaries are lower than in male-dominated sector.

Research done by Akava, the trade union representing graduates, found that, in 2004, 19 per cent of Akava's female members held managerial posts, most of them at middle or lower management level. In comparison, 41 per cent of men worked as middle or top managers.

Ms Asplund maintained that, on the whole, holders of second degrees had better job prospects and a more favourable salary progression than those with a first degree only.

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