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The Enormous Economic Return to Effort


Research shows that greater effort at university raises your grades and can thereby increase your future income by hundreds of thousands of pounds over a lifetime...

How much effort will you put in at Warwick? It is your choice.

A university is not like a school. When you are a university student, you will have a great deal of control over how hard you decide to work.
As you probably realise, nearly every Economics student who enters their degree course at Warwick is intellectually outstanding. What now sorts people out, from this point onward, is largely how much effort they put in to their studies.
Recent research suggests that students who put in more effort are rewarded with higher pay when they graduate. The research basis for this is in two parts...
First: studesnts who put in more effort are more likley to get higher marks and graduate with a higher degree class. Second: students who graduate with a higher degree class tend to earn more after University and for the rest of their lives.

The evidence

1. Student effort and academic results

(i) Warwick professors Wiji Arulampalam, Robin Naylor and Jeremy Smith (ANS) published a paper in 2012 showing that students who miss classes are less likely to score highly in their Economics modules at Warwick (ANS summary paper).

(iii) A variety of papers based on evidence for college students in the US show that missing class adversely affects performance. David Romer (1993) found that attendance contributed significantly to academic performance of students in a large macroeconomics course. Durden and Ellis (1995) found that attendance mattered for academic achievement of students on a Principle of Economics course (macro and micro).

(iii) Metcalfe, Burgess and Proud (2014) examine data on 4 million GCSE pupils in England and find that student effort has a big effort on GCSE grades. They also report neuroscience evidence that high levels of effort directly affects cognitive development. Their research strategy uses an approach you might find interesting (it's based on the impact of major football tournaments on effort and performance).

2. Degree Class and graduate earnings

(i) Warwick's Robin Naylor and Jeremy Smith, with others, have conducted research which examines the relationship between UK students' academic performance at university and their subsequent earning as graduates. Their main finding is that pay is far higher for graduates who achieve better degree class outcomes. On average, the return to a degree FOR THOSE WHO ACHIEVE A FIRST-CLASS DEGREE IS ABOUT DOUBLE THAT OF SOMEONE WITH A LOWER SECOND.


How you react to this research evidence is up to you. As your professors, we advise you to remember that effort pays off - enormously, in many ways - including financially - for the rest of your life.

Effort works. Huge Effort works hugely.