Students who learn science in higher secondary, with English and computer skills, are likely to earn 18 per cent to 25 per cent more than those who learn non-science subjects, according to a study by a team of four professors and research scholars from the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIMA), Indian Statistical Institute, Delhi, University of Connecticut and Michigan State University.
The study on the economic consequences of students studying science in high school points out that for top 1 per cent of wage earners, studying science in higher secondary is associated with 37 per cent higher earnings.
One of the authors, Nishith Prakash, associate professor of Economics at University of Connecticut and Women and Public Policy Program Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School, said, “Students who are making decisions on what to study in high school deserve to do so with full information on the relative consequences…”
The study also highlights the role of English language skills in the job market. “Earnings for science students are 28 per cent higher with fluency in spoken English and 19 per cent higher with little English compared to non-science individuals. Science students with no knowledge of English have no earnings advantage over their non-science peers,” said Tarun Jain, Associate Professor of Economics, IIM Ahmedabad.
The Indian Human Development Survey that covered urban men aged 25-65 years also says computer skills could be advantageous in jobs related to science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Raghav Rakesh, PhD student in Economics at Michigan State University and another co-author, said, “When students opt for science in higher secondary…, they upskill themselves in ways they don’t know about.”
Abhiroop Mukhopadhyay, Professor of Economics at Indian Statistical Institute, Delhi, and one of the authors, said, “Science students crack entry into professional institutes and end up with careers with 22 per cent higher pay. But they need to focus on their English and computer skills too…”
The report also says that students from Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe communities have no earnings advantage by studying science in high school.
“Overall earnings are 25 per cent greater for science students in the general category and 20 per cent higher for students from Other Backward Classes (OBC)… socially privileged individuals might benefit disproportionately more from science education…,” the report states.
Prof Tarun Jain said, “We do not include women in the analysis because women in India have a low labour force participation rate. We do not consider rural residents because measuring agricultural and in-kind income is difficult,” he said.
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