On average, higher educated earn twice as much as lower educated

24/03/2011 15:00

The average, annual gross income of employed people exceeded 36 thousand euro in 2009. Higher educated earned nearly twice as much as lower educated. Adjusted for gender and working hours, the income gap between higher and lower educated is still considerable.

One in three employed higher educated

One third of the employed labour force are higher educated and have completed an education at higher vocational (hbo) or university (wo) level. More than four in ten employed are educated at secondary level, i.e. they have finished an education at secondary vocational (mbo) level or attended at least 4 years of education at higher secondary general education level (havo) or pre-university education level (vwo). The remainder are lower educated. On average, the level of education of women is marginally higher than that of men.

Employed labour force by gender and education level, 2009

Employed labour force by gender and education level, 2009

Higher educated earn higher incomes

The personal income of lower educated averaged more than 26 thousand euro in 2009 versus more than 49 thousand euro for higher educated. The wage gap between people educated at lower and secondary level is much smaller than between secondary and higher educated. These differences apply to men and women. For every level of education, men’s incomes are always significantly higher than women’s incomes.

Average personal income by gender and education level, 2009*

Average personal income by gender and education level, 2009*

Gender income gap not only due to working hours and education level

As more women than men work part-time, the average incomes of women are lower. Yet, if men and women have the same working hours, women’s incomes are still much lower. Wages of full-time working women are still one quarter lower than the wages of full-time working men. The fact that women on average are marginally higher educated than men hardly plays a part in this respect.

Another factor for the gender income gap is the fact that more men than women work in executive management positions and men also more often work in sectors where well-paid jobs are frequent.

Average personal income by gender, level of education and actual weekly working hours, 2009*

Average personal income by gender, level of education and actual weekly working hours, 2009*

Linda Moonen and Astrid Pleijers