Australia: Final High School results 2023: Wake-up call for school leavers as the income gap between low and high achievers is revealed

This is an expected result but caution about causation is needed. School exam performance is highly correlated with IQ so the high ATAR scorers would be brighter -- and that alone tends to lead to economic success. ATAR scorres will mainly be an indicator, not a cause of future success

Students who achieve a high ATAR score will earn up to $33,000 more than their peers by the time they reach their 30s, new research has revealed.

The findings, unveiled during the week when year 12 students receive their ATAR scores, indicate a strong correlation between the attained ATAR level and income levels by the age of 30.

'Individuals with a higher ATAR are more likely to earn a higher income,' said Dr Silvia Griselda from e61 Institute, one of the authors of a new study said.

The e61 paper 'What's in an ATAR? How can university admission scores predict future income?' used data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics that draws a link between income levels taken from tax returns and ATAR scores.

At the age of 30, Australians with an ATAR below 70 will have a median annual income of approximately $70,000 in 2022 dollars.

Those with an ATAR between 70 and 80 earn slightly above $75,000.

A score in the 80-90 range correlates with a median salary just surpassing $80,000.

For ATARs falling between 90 and 95, the median salary increases to nearly $90,000, while scores in the 95-98 range leads to a median salary of almost $95,000. ATARs exceeding 98 are linked to a median salary close to $105,000.

In comparison, 30-year-old Aussie workers without a degree earn a median salary of just under $60,000 a year.

The research found people who choose not to pursue a university education and enter the workforce directly from high school typically see an initial rise in income.

However, these advantages tend to diminish by the age of 25.

Dr Griselda said school-leavers who achieve a high ATAR often receive priority admission to esteemed academic programs, particularly in fields such as medicine, finance, and law, boosting their earning potential compared to their peers.

Analysis by the e61 Institute found those who got an ATAR score over 98 will earn a median salary of $33,000 more by age 30 than those with a score below 70

She also noted that the careers of high achievers also benefited from networks they gained through their parents and expensive schooling.

While the link between a high ATAR and a high income is unmistakable, it's important to note a considerable income variation within each ATAR band.

For example, among 30-year-olds with ATARs above 95, the top 10 per cent of earn annual income surpassing $156,000, whereas the bottom 10 per cent in that band earn less than $30,000 per year.

This income disparity is also notable among 30-year-old workers without university degrees. Despite having a median income just under $60,000, the top 10 per cent in this group earn over $115,000 each year.

It comes as 67,234 high school graduates received their HSC marks via text at 6am on Thursday morning, with ATAR results following at 9am.

Year 12 applications through the University Admissions Centre are currently at the lowest level in a decade as fewer school leavers pursue a degree.


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