It was common knowledge that the returns to education were highest for the primary level of education and lower for subsequent levels. Recent evidence suggests that the pattern has changed. Since the 1980s, the returns to schooling have increased and the returns to higher education have increased the most.
Possible reasons include technological change favoring higher-order skills, increased coverage at lower levels of schooling, and the inability of quality of schooling to keep pace with the increase in demand for skills. Skill-biased technological progress is also producing consequences for income inequality and has a gender dimension. While enrollment in higher education has gone up three-fold since 1970, the returns have not changed overall, or increased for women.
This panel discussion explores the development impact of these issues and discusses the experience and implications for higher education development policies in Europe and Central Asia.