Access and returns to unpaid graduate work experience

Publication type

Journal Article


Publication date

September 15, 2021


We use longitudinal data on graduates from UK universities to evaluate whether unpaid work experience is a stepping stone into paid or stable employment. We document the characteristics and occupations of recent graduates taking unpaid work experience and then use propensity score matching to estimate the treatment effect of unpaid work experience on outcomes 3.5 years after graduation. We find negative treatment effects compared with initially being in paid work, on annual salary (£2900), job security and attainment of a professional occupation (both 9% pts). We find no evidence of a benefit to salary or job attributes compared with initially being out of the labour force.

Published in

Labour: Review of Labour Economics and Industrial Relations

Volume and page numbers

Volume: 35 , p.348 -377






Open Access

This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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