Education doesn’t always pay in Sweden: study

Education doesn’t always pay in Sweden: study
Nurses are paid less than a lot of non-college graduates. Photo: Bertil Ericsson/TT
Half of Swedish graduates would earn more in their lifetime if they instead started work straight after high school, a new study shows.

Public sector workers like teachers, librarians, nurses and social workers all earn less money on average over time than Swedes who did not go to college after graduating from gymnasiet, upper level high school. 

“Typically female-dominated professions,” noted Göran Arrius, chairman of Saco, the Swedish Confederation of Professional Associations, which carried out the study. 

The situation has worsened over the years, the study finds, as increasing numbers of college graduates would be better off financially if they went straight to the labour market after high school.

A college graduate earns an average of around 19 million kronor ($2.15 million) before retirement, compared to 16.4 million kronor for other workers. 

The relatively meagre financial benefits offered by a college education puts Sweden way down a list of developed countries, according to Arrius. 

The worst paid jobs for graduates are characterised by narrow pay bands, said the Saco chairman, who would like to see workers in these professions given more opportunities to negotiate higher wages. 

College degrees that earn graduates more than the average 16.4 million kronor:

Medicine, +8.9 million kronor

Law, +7.3

Economics, +7.2

Civil engineering, +5.9

Dentistry, +3.1

Veterinary, +2.0

Psychology, +1.1

College degrees that earn graduates less than the average 16.4 million kronor:

Preschool teaching, -1.8 million kronor 

Art, -1.7

Librarian, -1.4

Primary and lower high school teaching, -1.1

Social care, -0.8

Nursing, -0-4

Social services, -0.2



Jobs in Sweden