Can perceived returns explain enrollment gaps in postgraduate education?
To understand students' motives in obtaining postgraduate qualifications, we elicit intentions to pursue postgraduate education and beliefs about its returns in a sample of 1,002 university students. We find large gaps in perceptions about the immediate and later-life benefits of postgraduate education, both between first- and continuing-generation students and within the latter group. Differences in student beliefs about returns can account for 70% of the socioeconomic gaps in intentions to pursue postgraduate studies. We document large differences in students' current undergraduate experiences by socioeconomic background and find these to be predictive of perceived returns to postgraduate education.